Friday Facts January 15, 2016

Friday Facts
January 15th, 2016 by 1 Comment

It’s Friday!

Then and Now

GPPFlogo2Did you know? In 1991, the year the Georgia Public Policy Foundation was established, Gov. Zell Miller led the Legislature to approve a lottery for Georgia, with proceeds funding special programs, including his HOPE Scholarship for college and technical-school students, pre-K programs and educational technology. This week, the nation saw the highest PowerBall jackpot ever: $1.6 billion. 

Events

January 27: Georgia State Sen. Hunter Hill, State Rep. Mike Dudgeon and education innovator Mike Davis are panelists at the Foundation’s annual National School Choice Week celebration. Register now for, “Georgia Education: Reforms and Recommendations,” a Leadership Breakfast 8 a.m. Wednesday, January 27 at Cobb County’s Georgian Club. This panel discussion is open to the public. $30. Free parking. Information here; register to attend here.

February 17: Mark your calendar for, “Georgia Criminal Justice Reform: Looking Ahead, Staying Ahead,” an 8 a.m. Foundation Leadership Breakfast at Cobb County’s Georgian Club. The keynote speaker is Judge Michael P. Boggs, co-chairman of the Governor’s Criminal Justice Reform Task Force ; details to follow. 

Quotes of Note 

Let us be dissatisfied until the dark yesterdays of segregated schools will be transformed into bright tomorrows of quality integrated education.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

“If Republicans want some free advice – coming from a GOP legislator of a different era – the best thing they could do is to quit regulating everything that isn’t nailed to the ground. Sadly, the GOP takeover has been accompanied by a proliferation of laws designed to regulate virtually every aspect of our lives.” – Matt Towery 

Government transparency 

Not-so-open meetings: In an era of waning civic engagement, it’s disappointing when elected officials in Georgia work to stifle the “public” in public office. The latest: Brantley County’s Commission wants citizens to sign up for public comment and declare the topic a week before its agenda session, which takes place before its regularly scheduled meetings. Meanwhile, the agenda will merely be posted “as far in advance as is reasonably possible prior to the meeting.” But what if a citizen wishes to address an issue that is on the agenda? By contrast, Cobb County and Fulton County, for example, sign up speakers immediately before meetings.

Government spending 

ATL vs. LA: Los Angeles is refusing to offer government subsidies for a new stadium, The Wall Street Journal reports, citing cities like Atlanta that have subsidized stadiums, “despite a wealth of aca­d­e­mic stud­ies show­ing that sta­di­ums and are­nas are poor invest­ments when it comes to eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment.” 

Government regulation 

Free the Beer: A new proposal in the General Assembly would level the playing field and simplify regulations by regulating Georgia craft beer the same as wine. An attempt to do this last year led to special interests watering down the bill and regulators gutting it. Read the Foundation’s white paper on alcohol distribution law, published 14 years ago and, sadly, still applicable today. 

Transportation  

A Streetcar still struggling: This month, the Foundation criticized the Atlanta Streetcar in The New York Times. This week, the Georgia Department of Transportation, too, criticized the system’s operations. Its 129-page report, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “contained few surprises about the streetcar’s now well-documented troubles.”

Shovels ready? The Georgia Department of Transportation laid out a project list this week showing where additional transportation funding will be spent over the next ten years, including maintenance of existing roads and bridges, significant investment in developing Metro Atlanta’s express toll lane network, which will help traffic congestion and improve transit, and other new projects statewide. 

Health care

Access to care: Primary care doctors, spurred by frustration with insurance requirements, increasingly are bringing “health care for billionaires” – known as concierge care or direct primary care – to the masses, including people on Medicare and Medicaid, and state employees. Source: NPR

Economy

Tax cut: Removing the sales tax on energy brought Georgia 22,000 manufacturing jobs, a 6.4 percent rise, or double the U.S. rate. Source: Morris News Service  

Economic opportunity: Georgia is the No. 1 state in the nation for racial progress, according to a new report from WalletHub

Fiscally fine: State fiscal balance sheets are becoming more important, says former U.S. Comptroller General David M. Walker. He cites the PwC State Financial Position Index, where Georgia ranks in the top five. (Good news for our AAA credit rating.) 

Education 

Online learning honors: The University of Georgia ranks No. 5 for online bachelor degree programs in the 2016 U.S. News & World Report Best Online Programs Rankings. Also in the top 100: Savannah College of Art and Design (24); Georgia College & State University (49) and University of West Georgia (72). Scoring well in online MBA programs, too, were Georgia College & State (22); Georgia Southern (28); Kennesaw State (28); West Georgia (55); Columbus State (62) and Valdosta State (69). Georgia College & State also ranked No. 8 for online nursing degrees. 

Friday Flashback 

This month in the archives: In January 2001, the Foundation published, “Deregulation Not to Blame for High Gas Bills.” It noted, “Everyone in the country is feeling the impact of higher prices. If something is to blame, it is the weather’s influence on the guiding principle upon which our economy is based – supply and demand. Lawmakers should exercise caution in this volatile marketplace and leave the tinkering to the PSC.”

Media 

Foundation in the news: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution published an op-ed by Kelly McCutchen on the 2016 session. The inaugural issue of Capitol Faces by ZPolitics features an article by Benita Dodd on Georgia energy policy. The Athens Banner-Herald published Kelly McCutchen’s commentary, “Lawmakers should focus on empowering individuals.” 

Social media: The Foundation has 2,836 Facebook “likes” and 1,544 Twitter followers at twitter.com/gppf. Follow us on Instagram, too! 

Visit http://www.georgiapolicy.org to read our latest commentary, “Beyond Medicaid: Health Care for Low-income Georgians,” by Benita M. Dodd.

Have a great weekend!

Kelly McCutchen and Benita Dodd

FRIDAY FACTS is made possible by the generosity of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation’s donors. If you enjoy the FRIDAY FACTS, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to help advance our important mission by clicking here. Visit our Web site at www.georgiapolicy.org. Join The Forum at http://forum.georgiapolicy.org/. Become a fan of the Foundation on Facebook and follow us at twitter.com/gppf and Instagram.

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“I am here today to thank the Georgia Public Policy Foundation for your role in building a fiscally conservative, pro-growth state. Not only did you help pave the way for a new generation of leadership, you continue to provide key policy advice and to hold us accountable to the principles we ran on. In short, you have had a transforming influence on this state. We are healthier, stronger, and better managed because of your efforts.

State Senator Eric Johnson, President pro tempore, Georgia State Senate more quotes