April 12, 2013
April 23: The deadline is April 19 to register for “Telehealth: Taking Health Care to The Next Level,” the Foundation’s next Leadership Breakfast, at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, April 23, at Cobb County’s Georgian Club. The moderator is Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald of the Georgia Department of Public Health, with telemedicine expert panelists Dr. Jeffrey English, Dr. Jeffrey Grossman and Paula Guy of the Georgia Partnership for Telehealth. The cost is $25 to attend; register online at http://tinyurl.com/ck6v4yt. Find out more at www.georgiapolicy.org/?p=9075. (Attire: business, business casual.)
April 18: Retired Georgia Tech Professor James H. Rust, a policy adviser for the Heartland Institute, gives a talk, “The Role of Man-made Carbon Dioxide on Climate,” from 6-7 p.m. in Room C457 of Georgia Tech’s Van Leer Building, 777 Atlantic Drive, Atlanta, from 6-7 p.m. Click here for a map of the area. The retired professor of nuclear engineering is an outspoken critic of “unnecessary alarmism over man-made global warming.”
Quotes of Note
“Margaret Thatcher had more impact on the world than any woman ruler since Catherine the Great of Russia. Not only did she turn around – decisively – the British economy in the 1980s, she also saw her methods copied in more than 50 countries. ‘Thatcherism’ was the most popular and successful way of running a country in the last quarter of the 20th century and into the 21st.” – Historian Paul Johnson
“Being democratic is not enough, a majority cannot turn what is wrong into right. In order to be considered truly free, countries must also have a deep love of liberty and an abiding respect for the rule of law.” – Margaret Thatcher
Now that the first part of Georgia’s two-year legislative session is over, you can take a look at the issues the Foundation highlighted beforehand and what action, if any, the General Assembly took:
– Build on the major, bipartisan criminal justice reforms enacted in 2012 by reforming the juvenile justice system. Passed unanimously in both the House and Senate.
– Reform Georgia’s civil asset forfeiture law to protect innocent owners and their property rights. Failed in the House.
– Reform the medical malpractice system, which works well for trial lawyers and insurance companies, but not for Georgians actually injured by malpractice. This bipartisan idea could also save Georgia taxpayers over $1 billion a year by reducing defensive medicine. Study committees created.
– Create patient-centered health care options for disabled Medicaid recipients. During its five years of operations, Florida’s patient-centered Medicaid Reform Pilot has improved the health of enrolled patients, achieved high patient satisfaction and kept cost increases below average. A new study finds that if this experience were replicated in Georgia, patient satisfaction would soar, health outcomes would improve and taxpayers could save up to $1.4 billion. Study committees created.
– Give teachers the opportunity to choose a hybrid pension plan. In 2008, Georgia created a hybrid plan for new state employee hires, with existing employees allowed to opt in. Giving Georgia teachers this option could help attract and retain high quality teachers, save the state money and still provide a secure, financially sound retirement for teachers. No action.
– Free up existing funding to cover priority needs.
Georgia spends more money per student on education-related capital projects than all but nine other states. The movement in education toward digital learning places less emphasis on buildings and more emphasis on high quality Internet connections. Shifting a small portion of bond funding from school construction to fund fiber optic connections to school buildings would provide broadband Internet access to every student in the state. No action, but the Governor added $7 million in the final budget for this purpose.
Allow local governments to substitute a new, flexible local sales tax for the ESPLOST, to be used for any combination of 1) education capital projects, 2) transportation capital projects or 3) temporary shoring up of operating budgets for schools in dire fiscal situations. The flexibility of a fractional local sales tax would allow taxes that are now being collected to be used more effectively and where they are most needed. Several bills introduced, but none passed.
Georgia’s education achievements: 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the nation’s 10 best-scoring and 10 worst-scoring states based on Editorial Projects in Education Week’s 2012 “Quality Counts” report. States were ranked on several achievements, not just graduation rates. At seventh best, Georgia was the only state to receive a perfect score for transitions and alignments, indicating that the state is preparing students to enter postsecondary education and the workforce. Georgia is one of only eight states to require that course credits in high school align with the state’s postsecondary education system. It is one of a minority of states that evaluate teachers annually, and is also among the minority in tying teacher evaluations to student performance. The state is also one of just 10 where student performance data has a direct correlation to teacher education programs.
STEM Day: To recognize the vital importance of education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) for Georgia’s future workforce, economic competitiveness and growth, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal has signed a proclamation declaring May 3 the first STEM Day for the state. “It’s estimated that by 2018, Georgia will have approximately 211,000 STEM-oriented jobs to fill, so it is crucial that our future workforce be prepared with the necessary STEM skill set,” said Michael Robertson, executive director of TAG Education Collaborative (TAG-Ed), the Technology Association of Georgia’s charitable organization dedicated to preparing the next-generation workforce.
Taxes and spending
U.S. aid: International aid to developing countries fell for the second year in a row, as the European debt crisis continued to weigh heavily on the wealthiest nations. The United States government gave just over $30 billion in aid last year, roughly 1 percent less than the previous year. Nevertheless, it was still more than double the second largest contributor. A 24/7 Wall Street report noted that, “While significant, the amount accounted for less than 0.2 percent of the country’s gross national income, far less than most contributing countries.” On the other hand, American as individuals give more to help others than the residents of 152 other countries, according to a 2011 global survey.
Barriers to economic opportunity: Professional licensing and permitting requirements are the single biggest challenges for a new firm trying to enter a market, according to a new survey by Thumbtack.com and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation The costs of compliance for small companies can be exorbitant and fees can be thousands of dollars per year to hold a professional license. Beyond money, compliance and professional development require significant amounts of time that are equally burdensome to small businesses. Source: The American
Cutting red tape: Gov. Deal signed legislation this week to speed up the process for veterans to obtain state licenses for jobs they’ve trained for in the military. Source: WABE.org
Running out of money: A health insurance program that has been operating for nearly three years is foreshadowing big problems to come with ObamaCare, Grace-Marie Turner of the Galen Institute writes in Forbes magazine. The Affordable Care Act allocated $5 billion for a temporary program to help uninsured people with pre-existing conditions get insurance until the law takes full effect in 2014. But the plan is running out of money and the administration has closed enrollment, saying it needs the remaining money for the medical costs of the 100,000 people already enrolled through the end of the year. Costs vary widely by state, from a low of $4,276 per enrollee to a high of $171,909. Some individuals have annual claims as high as $225,000.
Media and social media
The Foundation’s Facebook page has 2,024 “likes!” View the latest Quotes of Note, Policy Points, EduFacts and Foundation photos at facebook.com/GeorgiaPolicy. Join the Foundation’s 935 Twitter followers at twitter.com/gppf.
Foundation on YouTube: View videos of presentations at the Foundation’s Annual Dinner and of speakers at Foundation events at www.georgiapolicy.org/videos/.
This Week in The Forum: Foundation Senior Fellow Eric Wearne writes about government attempts to deport a family homeschooling their children. Find this and other posts in The Forum, the Foundation’s blog, at georgiapolicy.org/category/the-forum/.
Visit www.georgiapolicy.org to read the Foundation’s latest commentary, “Malpractice Law Is Bad for Your Health,” by John C. Goodman and Pamela Villarreal.
With the death of Margaret Thatcher this week, we’ve lost another giant. Each of the great leaders of that generation – Reagan, Thatcher and Pope John Paul II – had their own, unique style. Thatcher’s gift was her ability to articulate and defend her principles under the most difficult circumstances. The “Iron Lady” seemed to enjoy the raucous politics of Parliament where she skewered her foes, often with a smile on her face. This video provides a glimpse of her prowess. www.youtube.com/watch?v=okHGCz6xxiw. Cheers to Lady Thatcher!
Have a great weekend!
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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!