October 13: REGISTER TODAY! It’s just one week to the 2017 Georgia Legislative Policy Forum! The daylong event October 13 at the Renaissance Atlanta Waverly Hotel brings state and national experts to you to discuss transforming health care and education in Georgia! Watch us discuss the event here on Facebook Live! The morning keynote speaker is Jonathan Williams, chief economist for the American Legislative Exchange Council. The lunch 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
“Our unity cannot be shattered by evil. Our bonds cannot be broken by violence. And though we feel such great anger at the senseless murder of our fellow citizens, it is our love that defines us today – and always will, forever.” – President Donald Trump
“It is better to cherish virtue and humanity, by leaving much to free will, even with some loss of the object, than to attempt to make men mere machines and instruments of political benevolence. The world on the whole will gain by a liberty, without which virtue cannot exist.” – Edmund Burke
“No government at any level, or at any price, can afford, on the crime side, the police necessary to assure our safety unless the overwhelming majority of us are guided by an inner, personal code of morality. And you will not get that inner, personal code of morality unless children are brought up in a family – a family that gives them the affection they seek, that makes them feel they belong, that guides them to the future, and that will build continuity in future generations … the greatest inequality today is not inequality of wealth or income. It is the inequality between the child brought up in a loving, supportive family and one who has been denied that birthright.” – Margaret Thatcher
Choice matters: Education Secretary Betsy DeVos gave what National Review described as “probably her best speech to date” last week at Harvard University. The audience, filled with preconceived notions, booed her. “The future of choice lies in trusting and empowering parents – all parents, not just those who have the power, prestige, or financial wherewithal to make choices,” DeVos said. Read more at: http://bit.ly/2g1GsKH
That ship has sailed: The 1920 Merchant Marine Act (“Jones Act”) decrees that only U.S. ships can carry goods and passengers from one U.S. port to another. In addition, every ship must be built, crewed and owned by Americans. Any foreign registry vessel that enters Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Guam or Alaska must pay punitive tariffs, fees and taxes, which are passed on to consumers. President Trump waived the Jones Act to aid in Puerto Rico’s post-hurricane relief efforts; it needs to be repealed altogether, writes Nelson Denis in The New York Times.
Physician workforce: Outside the metropolitan areas of Georgia, 77 percent of family practice doctors accept new Medicaid patients; in Georgia’s metropolitan areas, just 52 percent will, according to data from the new interactive webpage of the Georgia Board for Physician Workforce.
Direct Primary Care: Kaiser Health News published an article about the direct primary approach to health care in Texas. While it was peppered with dismissive clichés about how this membership-based physician access is “better than nothing” and patients relying on direct primary care are “rolling the dice,” it also cited the promising lower costs and the greater attention and access physicians can give their patients because it excludes third-party paperwork and bureaucracy.
Taxes and spending
Stadium subsidies I: Five years after Richmond, Va., lured the Washington Redskins’ training facility, “What should have been a privately funded project is costing millions of tax dollars from the hardworking residents of Richmond,” Erica York writes in The Richmond Times-Dispatch. The bad deal with the fifth-most valuable NFL franchise (worth $2.95 billion) is “what happens when a municipality negotiates with an organization that knows how to negotiate.”
Stadium subsidies II: Academic studies consistently find no discernible positive relationship between sports facilities and local economic development, income growth or job creation, according to research by the Brookings Institute. It adds, “And local benefits aside, there is clearly no economic justification for federal subsidies for sports stadiums.”
Closeout: The federal government went on an $11 billion spending spree before September 30, the end of the fiscal year. “Agencies are afraid that if they spend less than their budget allows, Congress might send them less money in the next year,” Adam Andrzejewski of OpenTheBooks.org writes in Forbes. “Agencies often try to spend everything that’s left instead of admitting they can operate on less. … The private-sector uses zero-based budgeting – where all expenses need to be justified from the ground up and every function within an organization is audited for cost.”
More than enough: Cobb County’s six-year, one-cent special purpose local option sales tax is exceeding expectations and could come in at $850 million when it sunsets in 2021, instead of the projected $750 million. We agree with Commissioner Bob Ott, quoted in The Marietta Daily Journal: “The reality is if we did SPLOST the way it was supposed to be done, when you collected all the money that you needed to do the projects that you had on your list then you would stop collecting it,” he said. Read the Foundation’s recent commentary on SPLOST reforms here.
Energy and environment
Burying lines: The Marietta Daily Journal of September 27 published a letter to the editor in the midst of recovery from recent hurricanes that downed power lines and prompted calls for utilities to bury the lines. The writer made salient points about the inconvenience and financial and environmental cost of burying the lines.
This month in the archives: In September 20 years ago the Foundation published, “Mugged by Reality.” It noted, “Aided by powerful new computers crunching reams of data, social scientists have learned a lot about criminal careers, how they develop, and how society can thwart them.”
Foundation in the news: The Fayette Citizen and the Bryan County News published a commentary by Ron Sifen and Benita Dodd on the need to reform the SPLOST. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution quoted Kelly McCutchen on the resignation of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price. Sally Sears of CBS46 News interviewed Benita about the potential of commuter rail in the metro area.
On a personal note: American resilience in the face of tragedy has been a recurring theme recently, as our nation unites to recover and heal from natural disasters such as hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria and the unfathomable tragedy in Las Vegas, where a gunman massacred 59 concert-goers and injured more than 500. It warmed our hearts that each time, first responders, emergency workers and ordinary citizens risked their lives and joined forces to assist others. Tiffs over taking a knee seem inconsequential in the shadow of such tragedies. It’s worth remembering, as President Bill Clinton once said, “There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America.”
Visit www.georgiapolicy.org to read our latest commentary, “The Unintended Consequences of Trade Protectionism,” by Jeffrey Dorfman.
Have a great weekend!
Kelly McCutchen and Benita Dodd
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