February 20: “Pension Solvency and Public Education: The Case for Reforming Georgia Teacher Pensions,” a Leadership Breakfast on Tuesday, February 20. Speakers are Len Gilroy, Senior Managing Director of the Pension Integrity Project and Director of Government Reform at Reason Foundation, and Georgia State Rep. Chuck Martin (R-Alpharetta), Chairman of the House Budget and Fiscal Oversight Committee. 8 a.m. at the Georgian Club. $30. Registration and information here.
February 26: The Foundation co-sponsors Georgia Justice Day 2018 at the State Capitol, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., highlighting criminal justice reforms, juvenile justice reforms and removing barriers to re-entry. Find out more here.
Quotes of note
“Government shutting down – partially – is not a disaster. The real disaster is paying $4 trillion a year to keep it running and getting such poor service in return.” – John Stossel
“It is more important that innocence be protected than it is that guilt be punished, for guilt and crimes are so frequent in this world that they cannot all be punished. But if innocence itself is brought to the bar and condemned, perhaps to die, then the citizen will say, ‘Whether I do good or whether I do evil is immaterial, for innocence itself is no protection,’ and if such an idea as that were to take hold in the mind of the citizen that would be the end of security whatsoever.” – John Adams
“This is that which I think great readers are apt to be mistaken in; those who have read of everything, are thought to understand everything too; but it is not always so. Reading furnishes the mind only with materials of knowledge; it is thinking that makes what we read ours.” – John Locke
Taxes and spending
Taxing the rich? At least 3 million American workers are benefiting from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, according to Americans for Tax Reform, which has compiled a list of the more than 250 companies announcing bonuses, wage and salary hikes and 401(k) match increases since the tax reforms were enacted. Among the Georgia-based companies are Aflac and Home Depot, AR-15 Gun Owners of America, Carl Black Automotive Group and Synovus.
School Choice Week: This week, more than 32,000 events celebrated school choice, including a Leadership Breakfast hosted by the Foundation. Education expert and Senior Fellow Dr. Ben Scafidi unveiled his landmark study on universal school choice for Georgia’s K-12 students that could begin as soon as 2020. View the event here.
Kudos: Middle Georgia, Georgia Southwestern, Albany and Valdosta state universities all made the top 10 in the 2018 Most Affordable Online Colleges and Degrees list by SR Education Group released this week. Meanwhile, Kennesaw State University ranks No. 19 on U.S. News & World Report’s Best Online MBA Programs in 2018.
Mastering degrees: American universities awarded about 760,000 master’s degrees during the 2014-15 academic year. The master’s degree is being called the new bachelor’s degree, but more needs to be done to analyze the value to students in their field of study, to states and to taxpayers, according to a new study published by the American Enterprise Institute.
Criminal justice reform
Changing numbers: The number of African-Americans sent to state prisons in Georgia has declined by 30 percent in the past eight years, thanks to the state’s historic criminal justice reforms, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. Accountability courts for non-violent offenders are making a difference. Governor Nathan Deal has credited the Foundation for its role, noting:
The Foundation’s Criminal Justice Initiative pushed the problems to the forefront, proposed practical solutions, brought in leaders from other states to share examples, and created this nonpartisan opportunity.
Time served: Over the past decade, the nation’s imprisonment rate has fallen by more than 10 percent, Grant Duwe of the American Enterprise Institute writes in, “A Better Way to Reform Prisons.” He proposes further reductions through effective programs that decrease known risk factors for re-offending. Examples include substance abuse treatment, cognitive-behavioral therapy, sex offender treatment, and education and employment programs.
Affordable care: Florida legislators debated bills this week that would repeal certificate of need requirements and facilitate direct primary care. Similar legislation in Georgia, held over from last year, awaits action in the Georgia House.
Other people’s money: While health care spending depends on price and service use, substantial hikes in health care spending between 2012 and 2016 were mainly due to price increases, according to a recent Health Care Cost Institute report, which found “particularly large increases in spending and price for administered drugs, emergency room (ER) visits, and surgical hospital admissions.”
Innovation: The transit authority in Jacksonville, Fla., plans a shuttle service using shared autonomous vehicles to replace its underused Skyway monorail service. Meanwhile, planners in Denver, Seattle and Milwaukee are considering adding special lanes for driverless vehicles on their interstates. Read the Foundation’s proposal, “Transit’s Future is in Innovation, Not in Trains.”
Ride-share inroads: Metro magazine takes a comprehensive look at the game-changing ride-hailing and ride-sharing services, including Lyft and Uber, that are meeting the needs of commuters and reducing operating costs for public transportation. Read more here.
This month in the archives: In January 10 years ago, the Foundation published, “Rail’s No Way In or To San Jose.” It noted, “What an incredible assumption that the ‘poster child for sprawl’ could enjoy the rail success of Los Angeles, the nation’s densest metro area. That’s why it’s called ‘romancing rail.’”
This week in Georgia history: On January 24, 1915, the first transcontinental telephone call was placed from Jekyll Island, Ga., by Theodore N. Vail, first president of the American Telephone & Telegraph Company (AT&T).
Foundation in the news: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution quoted Senior Fellows Kelly McCutchen and Ben Scafidi in an article on education funding. The Citizen published Russ Moore’s commentary on career academies. The Citizen and The Coastal Courier published Benita Dodd’s article on the 2018 legislative session.
YouTube: View the Foundation’s January 23 National School Choice Week event with Ben Scafidi here.
Visit www.georgiapolicy.org to read our latest commentary, “Georgia 2020: Educational Choice for All K-12 Georgia Students,” by Ben Scafidi.
Have a great weekend.
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I wanted to publicly say how much I appreciate Georgia Public Policy Foundation. For those of you that will be entering the Legislature or are relatively new you may not quite yet appreciate how much we rely on Georgia Public Policy Foundation’s research and work. As you know we’re a citizen’s legislature. We have very little staff. They have been an invaluable, invaluable resource to us. To put this [Forum] on and the regular programs that they do throughout the year make us better at what we do. (At the 2012 Georgia Legislative Policy Forum.)