Georgia Public Policy Foundation
Changing Georgia Policy, Changing Georgians' Lives
Since 1991
Friday Facts: January 17, 2014

January 17, 2014

It’s Friday!

Events 

January 28, 2014: The deadline is Friday, January 24 to register for “School Choice and Georgia: An Update,” the Foundation’s 8 a.m. Leadership Breakfast on Tuesday, January 28. In celebration of National School Choice Week, the panel discussion at Cobb County’s Georgian Club features three of Georgia’s leading education experts: Eric Wearne, Jim Kelly and Ben Scafidi. The first 50 people to register for this event will receive their very own school choice woobie – and you can wear it to the School Choice Rally at the Capitol that day! This event is $25 to attend. Find out more at http://tinyurl.com/ovkzx7g; register online at http://tinyurl.com/poode79.

Quotes of Note

“Wages are the price of labor. Higher skilled labor is worth a higher price. Lower skilled labor is worth a lower price. When you set a legal price control on labor, which is what a minimum wage is, you make it illegal for low skill workers to sell their labor. It’s as simple as that.” – Tom Giovanetti 

“It is seldom, that liberty of any kind is lost all at once. Slavery has so frightful an aspect to men accustomed to freedom, that it must steal upon them by degrees, and must disguise itself in a thousand shapes, in order to be received.” – David Hume 

“Spoon feeding in the long run teaches us nothing but the shape of the spoon.” – E.M. Forster

Health care

Hospital Cuts Delayed: The Federal budget deal has delayed several hundred million dollars in cuts to the Disproportionate Share Hospital program for one year, taking pressure off states that have refused to expand Medicaid.

ObamaCare litigation: Plaintiffs have already filed notice they will appeal a federal district judge’s ruling this week that the IRS is correct in saying that the federal health law authorizes it to grant tax credits in both federally run health insurance exchanges and state-run exchanges. The plaintiffs argue the law allows the IRS to authorize tax credits only for individuals who purchase insurance on state-run exchanges.

Tax and spending

Income inequality myths: Many cite the statistics that from 1979 to 2007, taxpayers’ median real income only rose by only 3.2 percent. Adjusted for government transfer payments, household size and employer-provided insurance, however, real income increased for the average household by more than a third over the past 30 years. Source: National Center for Policy Analysis

Budget: Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal’s FY15 Budget proposal was released this week. Tax revenues are projected to surpass $17.8 billion for the first time since 2007. Combined state and federal spending will rise to $42.3 billion, $2.9 billion higher than in FY07.

To pay or not to pay: The U.S. Senate debating whether to extend unemployment benefits that expired on December 28. It may not help job seekers, according to John Goodman of the National Center for Policy Analysis: A recent study from the National Bureau of Economic Research concludes that longer-term unemployment makes unemployment persist.

Transportation

Transit fail: A new study dismisses the claim that transit use causes a decrease in traffic congestion. Based on statistical analysis of the 74 largest urbanized areas in the nation over a 26-year period, the study by Tom Rubin for the Reason Foundation found that decreasing transit utilization does not lead to an increase in traffic congestion, either. In fact, Rubin found, policies designed to promote transit utilization can in certain instances increase traffic congestion – as appears to have been the case in Portland, Oregon.

Transit success: Express lanes, like the ones being built in Georgia, make transit more efficient and popular. The hugely popular express bus services between the Fort Lauderdale metro area (Broward County) and downtown Miami, enabled by the I-95 Express Lanes, are becoming a victim of their own success. The most popular line, from Miramar to Miami, has outgrown its park-and-ride lot. Source: Reason Foundation

Energy and environment

Deficit eclipses benefits: Spain is facing a growing deficit – about $40 billion now – because it has never passed on the true cost of producing renewable energy to its consumers and the problem has ballooned with the country’s economic crisis. Under new legislation, Spain will drop its solar energy per-kilowatt-hour payment system – once offered to spur investment in solar energy – and effectively impose retroactive cuts in payments. It also plans to make solar power producers pay a charge on electricity they generate and use themselves, a measure angry protesters call a “sun tax.” Source: New York Times

Renewables maybe? BP’s Energy Outlook 2035 report predicts that renewable sources will overtake nuclear in supplying the world’s energy demands by 2025. Renewable-energy use will expand an average of 6.4 percent annually to 2035, while natural gas, the No. 1 fossil fuel in terms of market growth, will rise 1.9 percent, BP said. The renewables’ mix includes biofuels, BP says – good news for Georgia if Europe continues to use this state’s abundant wood pellets! Source: Bloomberg

Renewables maybe not? Just last year, Georgia Power’s Plant Mitchell in Dougherty County, was slated to be converted from a coal-fired power plant to the nation’s largest biomass-fueled power plant. Last week, the utility announced it has applied for decertification. The retrofit plan has become too costly, thanks to federal environmental regulations, according to Georgia Power. The move to retire the unit by April 2015, the compliance date for EPA federal mercury regulations, will affect 25 of the plant’s 33 employees.

Media and social media

Foundation in the news: This week, Kelly McCutchen’s op-ed on the 2014 legislative session appeared in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Benita Dodd discussed the Eggs and Issues Breakfast on WGAU-AM’s Newsmakers program with Tim Bryant.

Web site of the week: Visit the Taxpayer Foundation’s site, http://taxfoundation.org/. Established in 1937 and best known for its annual calculation of “Tax Freedom Day,” the Tax Foundation’s mission is to educate taxpayers about smarter tax policy and the size of the tax burden on Americans.

YouTube: The Foundation’s YouTube channel has had than 1,000 views already this month and more than 38,200 total views! New videos this week include:  Senate committee hearings on the Patient Compensation Act (alternatives to existing medical malpractice) and how to improve higher education opportunities for foster care and homeless youth; Gov. Nathan Deal’s speech at the annual Eggs and Issues Breakfast, and Kelly McCutchen’s participation in a Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education panel discussion about the 2014 legislative session. Watch for coverage next week of a House committee hearing to discuss changes to Georgia’s civil asset forfeiture laws. 

Facebook: The Foundation’s Facebook page has more than 2,200 “likes.” Join us at facebook.com/GeorgiaPolicy to view daily policy news, views, updates, Quotes of Note and event photos. Ask your high school or college student to like the Foundation’s Student Outreach Scholarship page on Facebook at facebook.com/GeorgiaPolicySOSProgram.

The Foundation’s Twitter account has more than 1,100 followers! Get your Foundation news at twitter.com/gppf.

The Forum:
Benita Dodd’s “Checking Up On Health” is back for 2014. Read about the IT toothbrush, cancer research dangers and melanoma treatment. Find this and more blog posts at georgiapolicy.org/category/the-forum/.

Visit www.georgiapolicy.org to read our latest commentary, “States Can Unite to Rein in Feds on Spending,” by Nick Dranias.

Have a great weekend!

Kelly McCutchen and Benita Dodd

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