On a personal note
Hurricane Irma’s path remains uncertain, but residents in Florida, Georgia and the Southeast coast are evacuating or bracing for its impact. Our thoughts and prayers are with those in its path.
We were in San Antonio, Texas, last week for the State Policy Network’s 25th annual conference. That city was spared any effects from Hurricane Harvey but, as you know from media reports, many lives, homes and possessions were lost closer to the Gulf Coast. Georgians generously stepped in to donate and volunteer.
Now Georgians’ lives, too, are at risk. As you may already know, Gov. Nathan Deal has issued a mandatory evacuation order for all areas east of I-95 and other parts of the state’s coast. He expanded a state of emergency to 30 southeast Georgia counties and plans a news conference today at 10 a.m. to outline the state’s storm response.
Thank you for caring. Thank you for helping. Thank you for doing it again and again.
October 13: Early Bird Registration is now open for the 2017 Georgia Legislative Policy Forum on Friday, October 13 at the Renaissance Atlanta Waverly Hotel. The theme for the daylong event is “Wisdom, Justice, Transformation,” with a focus on health care and education. Early Bird Registration is $100; register here. Details to follow! View previous events here.
Quotes of note
“The bosom of America is open to receive not only the Opulent and respectable Stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all Nations and Religions; whom we shall welcome to a participation of all our rights and privileges, if by decency and propriety of conduct they appear to merit the enjoyment.” – George Washington (1783)
“Frequently, government will say they need to create jobs. Since government doesn’t actually create jobs, they give incentives (aka tax breaks) to large corporations to move into the city. This means your tax dollars, and the taxes paid by the small businesses, are going to subsidize the big corporations. Local, unique small businesses do not get the same breaks given to big, out of state corporations.” – Susan Kochevar
Flood insurance: As the damage from Hurricane Harvey is tallied and Hurricane Irma threatens the Southeast with flooding and other damage, it’s worth noting two recent reports about the perverse incentives of the National Flood Insurance program
Criminal justice reform
Crime rates: The overall crime rate in 2017 is projected to decrease slightly, by 1.8 percent. If this estimate holds, 2017 will have the second-lowest crime rate since 1990, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. At the same time, according to Reason.com, the Department of Justice in the Trump administration has been prosecuting fewer people for drug crimes than Obama’s Justice Department did – a 9 percent drop from 2016 to 2017.
Stifling innovation: John Stossel recently tested the innovative low-cost online vision care service, Opternative, which legislators in Georgia and a dozen other states have banned. The optometrists’ association would not talk to him about it. “I assume they knew I’d mock them for trying to ban the competition. Which they are trying to do. They wrote the FDA that the at-home test ‘should be taken off the market.’ What they’re really saying is that patients should not have the right to make any choices in their own vision care,” Stossel points out.
Affordable housing: Housing advocates and politicians often see high-rise construction is a solution to the problem of housing affordability, Joel Kotkin writes in NewGeography.com. “The causes of the problem, however, are principally prohibitions on urban fringe development of starter homes. Critics also note that high-rises in urban neighborhoods often replace older buildings, which are generally more affordable,” Kotkin writes. He adds, “Several factors suggest the high-rise residential boom is over.”
Petitioning Congress: The Georgia Public Policy Foundation joined a coalition of more than 20 leading state and national organizations this week in a letter calling on Congress to seize the opportunity to deliver transformative tax reform.
Getting better: Georgia’s 2017 average ACT score was higher, for the second consecutive year and the second time in state history, than the national average of 21. View the full Georgia report. Source: Georgia Department of Education
Charters and choices: Foundation Vice President Benita Dodd, a longtime champion of school choice in Georgia, has also been appointed to the board of the Georgia Charter Schools Association, where she will chair the communications committee.
This month in the archives: In September 10 years ago the Foundation published, “The Monkey Trap in Transportation Policy.” It noted, “Every earmark specifies a use and subtracts from a state’s transportation funds, and puts it out of the reach of a state Department of Transportation’s discretion. In all likelihood, that DOT has a better, higher use for those dollars in its list of priorities. Asking taxpayers for more money while playing fast and loose with state transportation policy is neither wise nor frugal government.”
Visit www.georgiapolicy.org to read our latest commentary, “Commonsense Recommendations for SPLOST Reform in Georgia,” by Ron Sifen and Benita Dodd.
Have a safe 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!