March 27: Second Chance Month in April, sponsored by Prison Fellowship, celebrates brighter futures for those who have repaid their debt to society. The Georgia Public Policy Foundation played a leading role in Georgia’s criminal justice reforms. The Foundation’s March 27 Leadership Breakfast, “Second Chances,” features three Georgia leaders who champion “second chances:” Bill McGahan of Georgia Works, Jay Neal, Executive Director of the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council of Georgia, and Andrea Shelton of Heartbound Ministries $30. 8 a.m., Georgian Club. Registration information at georgiapolicy.org/events.
Quotes of note
“We must own up to the fact that laws and regulations alone cannot produce a civilized society. Morality is society’s first line of defense against uncivilized behavior.” – Walter Williams
“As we look over the list of the early leaders of the republic, Washington, John Adams, Hamilton, and others, we discern that they were all men who insisted upon being themselves and who refused to truckle to the people. With each succeeding generation, the growing demand of the people that its elective officials shall not lead but merely register the popular will has steadily undermined the independence of those who derive their power from popular election.” – James Truslow Adams (1930)
25 years of second chances for Georgia’s youth: The Youth ChalleNGe Academy Foundation, which supports Georgia’s three National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Academies, joined Governor Nathan Deal last month at the Georgia Freight Depot to celebrate 25 years of the program’s success. Georgia’s academies, located at Fort Stewart, Fort Gordon and Milledgeville, have graduated more than 16,000 cadets representing all 159 counties in Georgia. ChalleNGe serves those between the ages of 16 to 18 who have dropped out of school but are interested in turning their lives around and improving their chances for success. Find out more at 800-278-2233.
Trainwreck I: When Honolulu embarked on its planned 20-mile elevated electric train line in 2011, it was expected to cost $5.2 billion and ease traffic congestion by 18 percent when it opened in 2017. Six years later, the city estimates the project will cost $10 billion – almost five times the city’s annual budget – while civil engineering specialists estimate $13 billion. Now it’s expected to reduce traffic by 1-2 percent if the city’s overblown ridership projections are met. Source: CityLab.com
Trainwreck II: Puerto Rico’s 11-mile Tren Urbano has now been in operation 11 years but only attracts a third of the rides it needs to break even and built at nearly 80 percent over-budget. It continues to lose about $50 million a year. This financial drain has intensified Puerto Rico’s massive debt crisis, even as U.S. government officials warn that ditching the rapid transit system could mean the territory would lose federal funding. Source: CityLab.com
BRT: Atlanta and MARTA have received a $12.6 million TIGER grant toward a 9.4-mile bus rapid transit line between Downtown and midtown Atlanta. The $48.6 million line would open by 2024 and connect the Summerhill neighborhood south of I-20 to MARTA’s Arts Center Station. The project includes “approximately” five new bus rapid transit vehicles operating on a mix of dedicated and shared lanes and “approximately” 30 transit stations. Source: City of Atlanta
Saving: Nearly two dozen “deregulations” by Scott Pruitt, head of the Environmental Protection Agency, have yielded $1 billion in cost savings after just one year. Still to come, the Clean Power Plan and Clean Water Rule are just two of the 44 additional deregulations currently on the agency’s docket. It’s estimated that the elimination of the Clean Power Plan could single-handedly save the economy upwards of $33 billion. Source: Environmental Protection Agency
Blaming the victim: An article on CNET.com reports that Starcity, a company buying huge properties in San Francisco, is turning buildings into adult dormitories. “The dorms target non-techies, who can’t afford property thanks to the jerks of Silicon Valley and are willing to share common areas with strangers.” Shouldn’t the blame fall on the originators of overregulation on the Left Coast, that is, their elected officials?
Charter schools: The 15th annual Georgia Charter Schools Association conference this week celebrated the 20th anniversary this year of Georgia’s start-up charter schools. Among the speakers was Martha Nesbit, author and founder of Oglethorpe Academy, the state’s first start-up charter school, who shared her school’s challenging beginnings. Senior Fellow Dr. Ben Scafidi discussed his report on school choice, “Georgia 2020: Educational Choice for All K-12 Georgia Students.”
Personal note: When I met Martha Nesbit after her speech, I told her my affiliation. Her response: “I followed everything the Georgia Public Policy Foundation published! Before we made a move, we’d check what the Georgia Public Policy Foundation said about it!” Kudos to former Foundation staffers Rogers Wade, Kelly McCutchen and Chris Carr for their leadership on charters and education choice; they blazed a trail for a trailblazer in public school choice!
Direct Primary Care: The Florida Legislature approved legislation this week to facilitate direct primary care by amending the state insurance code to make clear that direct primary-care agreements do not violate insurance regulations. Similar legislation was approved unanimously in 2017 by the Georgia Senate but has gone nowhere in the House. (Today is Day 32 of the 40-day session.) The Foundation provided testimony in 2017; find out more about DPC here.
Minimum wage: This week, CaliBurger fast food restaurant started its newest “employee,” a learning robot that can cook 150 hamburgers an hour. “Flippy doesn’t just flip hamburgers, he exposes why raising the minimum-wage hurts workers,” Investor’s Business Daily points out. “Replacing workers with robots has been going on for decades. But raising the minimum wage will accelerate this trend by making even costly robots a better deal than increasingly expensive, minimally skilled workers.”
This month in the archives: In March 15 years ago, the Foundation published, “Closing the Gap.” It noted, “Georgia businesses and families are facing the same tough decisions with regard to their budgets every day. They have to make tough decisions – streamlining where possible and doing without where necessary – and they can’t just get more money through a tax increase. The state should do likewise.”
Foundation in the news: The Atlanta Business Chronicle quoted Senior Fellow Kelly McCutchen on Georgia cutting taxes: “A lower tax rate would make Georgia more competitive with neighboring states.”
YouTube: Visit here to view the Foundation’s February 20 event on teacher pensions and insolvency with Len Gilroy of Reason Foundation and Georgia Rep. Chuck Martin.
Visit www.georgiapolicy.org to read our latest commentary, “Time is on Our Side in Transforming Georgia Transit,” by Baruch Feigenbaum.
Have a great weekend.
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/. Find the Foundation on social media at Facebook, twitter.com/gppf and Instagram.
As an employer, and a parent and a graduate of Georgia public schools, I am pleased that the Foundation has undertaken this project. (The report card) provides an excellent tool for parents and educators to objectively evaluate our public high schools. It will further serve a useful purpose as a benchmark for the future to measure our schools’ progress.