October 13: Register now for the 2017 Georgia Legislative Policy Forum on Friday, October 13 at the Renaissance Atlanta Waverly Hotel. The theme is “Wisdom, Justice, Transformation,” with a focus on transforming health care and education. The keynote speaker is Dr. Tim Huelskamp, three-term Congressman and new president of The Heartland Institute. Registration is $125 and includes breakfast and lunch. Tickets here; details here!
Quotes of note
“Freedom is the matrix required for the growth of moral values – indeed not merely one value among many but the source of all values. … It is only where the individual has choice, and its inherent responsibility, that he has occasion to affirm existing values, to contribute to their further growth, and to earn moral merit.” – F.A. Hayek
“In democracies, we the people get the government we deserve. We also get the celebrities we deserve.” – Mike Rowe
“Posterity! You will never know how much it cost the present Generation to preserve your Freedom! I hope you will make good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in Heaven, that I ever took half the Pains to preserve it.” – John Adams
School choice helps higher ed: Low-income students participating in the popular Florida Tax Credit scholarship program – similar to Georgia’s popular tax credit scholarship program – are more likely to enroll in college than their peers, according to research released by the Urban Institute this week. Source: ExcelinEd
Staffing surge: From fiscal year 1950 to FY 2015, public schools added full-time equivalent personnel at a rate almost four times that of student enrollment growth – and they were disproportionately non-teachers, according to a study by Foundation Senior Fellow Ben Scafidi. Total school personnel grew 381 percent: a 243 percent increase in teachers and a 709 percent increase in administrators and “all other staff.”
Chronic absence: Nationwide, more than 7 million students are chronically absent from school, missing so much school that they are academically at risk. Georgia sees higher chronic absenteeism – students missing more than 15 days of school – in urban public schools and those serving low-income students, according to an analysis released this month by Attendance Works and the Everyone Graduates Center.
Transit: According to data from the American Community Survey, transit’s share of U.S. travel grew from 5.03 percent in 2006 to 5.49 percent in 2015. This growth was at the expense of carpooling, as the share of those driving alone also grew. In 2016, however, transit’s share fell to 5.36 percent and both driving alone and carpooling grew. In Georgia in 2016, the percentage of people driving alone increased to 84 percent while fewer people carpooled (10 percent carpooled), fewer used transit (2.26 percent), more walked and more traveled in the “taxi, bicycle, motorcycle” category. (No word on whether this included rideshare services.)
Motor City’s Streetcar: Detroit’s 3.3-mile streetcar counted about 5,000 trips a day by riders when it was free but The Detroit Free Press reports ridership dropped “somewhat” after fares were implemented this month. In fact, trips declined 40 percent, averaging just 3,000 trips a day since they began charging fares. And only 40 percent of those riders are paying, which the line’s spokesman said “is higher than 32.5 percent national average of similar downtown city rail systems.”
Taxes and spending
$2.4 billion: That’s the projected June 30, 2017, balance of Georgia’s Revenue Shortfall Reserve or “rainy day” fund, equal to 10.33 percent of the state’s net revenue collections. Source: State of Georgia Revenues and Reserves Report
Workers win: At least 10 separate economic studies show that “at least 75 percent of corporate taxes is passed on to workers in the form of lower wages,” writes Edwin J. Feulner of the Heritage Foundation Meanwhile, “a 20-point cut in the corporate income tax rate, from 35 percent to 15 percent, could boost the relative market incomes of the poorest Americans by 2.4 percent. That would mean $365 for a household that earns $15,000 a year.”
Opioids at work: “While economists have paid more attention to the opioid epidemic’s role in keeping people out of work, about two-thirds of those who report misusing pain-relievers are on the payroll. … The National Safety Council survey found that 29 percent of employers reported impaired job performance due to prescription-painkiller use, while 15 percent cited an injury or near miss that they attributed to the drugs. As many as 70 percent said their workforce had been affected in some way.” Source: Bloomberg News
Deadline: September 30 is the expiration date of Congress’s current “budget reconciliation” instructions, which set up the special process that lets the Senate advance a bill with a simple majority rather than 60 votes. With the failure of the latest ObamaCare overhaul proposal known as Graham-Cassidy, it’s high time for federalism. (Read today’s commentary!)
Criminal Justice Reform
Ups and downs: Violent crime increased for the second consecutive year, while property crime decreased for the 14th straight year, according to the FBI’s annual report on national crime statistics released this week. There were an estimated 17,250 murders last year, an 8.6 percent increase from 2015. Overall violent crime rose 4.1 percent last year, while property crime fell 1.3 percent compared to 2015 figures.
Daylight robbery: The cost of cybercrime has climbed 62 percent over the past five years, costing each victimized organization some $11.7 million per year, according to Cost of Cyber Crime Study from Accenture and the Ponemon Institute. Malware takes the title for the most expensive attack per individual incident. Each malware infection that happens costs the victim $2.4 million, on average. Source: Accenture
Cooking with gas: Methane is far more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. Now researchers are experimenting with converting methane into food. A fermentation process turns the gas into a protein that is mixed into poultry and fish feed; scientists hope it will eventually be fit for human consumption. Source: BusinessDay
This month in the archives: In September 10 years ago the Foundation published, “Tear Down this Wall.” It noted, “Unless the 2008 session brings decisive action with creative impact on the uninsured, a national election in 2008 will generate an aggressive federal movement to do the job in a different way from what Georgians might choose.” Truer words were never spoken.
Foundation in the news: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and WABE quoted Kelly McCutchen on the Graham-Cassidy health care proposal. Benita Dodd was interviewed by WSB-TV on the city of Atlanta’s plan to transfer the Atlanta Streetcar to MARTA.
Visit www.georgiapolicy.org to read our latest commentary, “Time is of the Essence in State Health Care Reform,” by Kelly McCutchen.
Have a great weekend!
Kelly McCutchen and Benita Dodd
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The Georgia Public Policy Foundation has hit another homerun with its Guide to the Issues. This is must reading for anyone interested in public policy in Georgia, and it is an outstanding road map for conservative, common sense solutions to our challengers of today and tomorrow.