October 15: The Sixth Annual Georgia Legislative Policy Forum takes place at the Renaissance Atlanta Waverly on Thursday, Oct. 15. Arthur Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute, is the keynote speaker at this daylong event. The theme is, “Wisdom, Justice and Opportunity.” Details here. Registration is $125 per person. Register here. Sponsorships are available; contact Benita Dodd.
December 8: Mark your calendar! The Foundation hosts, “The Case for K-12 Student-Based Budgeting in Georgia,” a panel discussion, at The Cobb Galleria. Details to follow.
Quotes of Note
“This is a day when all Americans from every walk of life unite in our resolve for justice and peace. America has stood down enemies before, and we will do so this time. None of us will ever forget this day. Yet, we go forward to defend freedom and all that is good and just in our world.” – George W. Bush, September 11, 2001
“Generations from now, Americans will still build towers that reach toward the heavens; still serve in embassies that stand for freedom around the world; still wear the uniform and give meaning to those words written two centuries ago: Land of the free. Home of the Brave. Generations from now, no matter the trial, no matter the challenge, America will always be America.” – Barack Obama, September 11, 2014
“America became the most innovative and prosperous nation in history because many Americans were adventurous, individualistic people willing to take big risks to discover things that might make life better. Every day, bureaucrats do more to kill those opportunities. We’ll never know what good things we might have today had some bureaucrat not said ‘no.’ Presidential candidates ought to scream about that.” – John Stossel
Fee simple? An article in The Economist on how the fact that governments are embracing fees “has less to do with economics than with political expediency. Politicians have seized on charges as an easy way of raising money, and have inflated some fees until they bear little relation to the cost of the service supposedly being purchased. Too often the result is a regressive, economically distorting swindle.” Biggest culprits? The court system.
Shrinking labor force: Today’s labor force participation rate is 62.6 percent, a 38-year low. That depressed number wipes out all the gains in employment made during the Reagan era, a time when women by the tens of millions moved into the workforce. Today, more women are on food stamps than have full-time jobs. Source: Washington Times
Tanning tax not so golden: Among ObamaCare’s many provisions is the 10 percent surtax on tanning salon sessions. Expected to raise $1 billion in revenues during its first four years, the tax has generated only $362 million, just over one-third of projections, William F. Shughart II writes in National Review. He attributes the shortfall to human behavior. Worse, it hurt women most: Employment is down by nearly half in an industry where women account for 95 percent of staff and 75 percent of customers.
Told you: With one in three MARTA employees absent on any given day, the unplanned absences now sap $13.6 million from the transit agency’s budget, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Its board now plans to outsource absence management to a private company. Back in 2012 we wrote in the newspaper, “Managed competition, including privatization and outsourcing, is critical. … Managed competition will turn MARTA’s focus to providing transportation instead of preserving union jobs.”
Road diets: Los Angeles is facing a lawsuit over its sweeping new 20-year road diet transportation plan. The suit charges that the plan, which would add hundreds of miles of new bus- and bike-only lanes, will lead to increased tailpipe emissions. The city’s environmental impact report projects that by 2035 the plan would double the number of major streets heavily congested during evening rush hour. Read Benita Dodd’s commentary on road diets in Atlanta.
Sound familiar? Last week, in a 6-3 decision, the Washington State Supreme Court declared unconstitutional the state’s voter-approved charter school law, threatening the future of nine new schools with more than 1,200 students. School choice supporters are urging the governor to call a special legislative session; the court majority relied on an obscure 1909 judicial interpretation of the words “common schools.” A similar situation occurred when the Georgia’s Supreme Court rejected a state charter schools commission law; voters corrected that with a constitutional amendment.
This month in the archives: In September 2000, the Foundation published, “The Myth of Smart Growth.” It pointed out: “Smart growth policies can only be effective if they cause a significant shift of travel from automobiles to transit and walking. The modern metropolitan area is far too complex and interdependent to expect such major travel changes.”
Web site of note: The Independent Institute’s video series, “Love Gov,” portrays the federal government as an overbearing boyfriend – Scott “Gov” Govinsky – who foists his “good intentions” on a hapless, idealistic college student, Alexis. Watch it; share it!
Foundation in the media: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution investigated E. Frank Stephenson’s Foundation commentary on Georgia gas prices. The Athens Banner-Herald quoted Kelly McCutchen on federal spending in Georgia and Benita Dodd on education innovation in the juvenile justice system.
The Forum: Read James M. Taylor’s rebuttal of the Environmental Defense Fund’s latest flier in, “Top 10 Global Warming Lies.”
Visit www.georgiapolicy.org to read our latest commentary, “‘Opportunity’ Rocks at 6th Annual Georgia Legislative Policy Forum,” by Benita M. Dodd.
Have a great weekend!
Kelly McCutchen and Benita Dodd
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When I served four terms in the state Senate, one of the few places where you could go to always and get concrete information about real solutions was the Georgia Public Policy Foundation. That hasn’t changed. [The Foundation] is really right up there at the top of the state think tanks, so you should be very proud of the work that they are doing!