Honors: The Georgia Public Policy Foundation was honored with a Senate Resolution Tuesday to mark 25 years of serving Georgia with ideas for limited-government, free-market solutions and promoting “policy over politics.” Accepting the honor in the Senate chamber on behalf of the Foundation were two former presidents of the Foundation, Griff Doyle (1993-97) and T. Rogers Wade (1997-2010), who is also Board Chairman; current President Kelly McCutchen (2011-present) and Vice President Benita Dodd (2003-present). View the video here.
Then and now: In 1991, the year the Georgia Public Policy Foundation was established, the average cost of a gallon of regular gas was $1.14 – $1.98 in today’s dollars. This week, the cost is $1.49 at the Costco near the Foundation! (That’s today’s dollars!) Two reasons: technological innovation (shale and fracking) in spite of intervention efforts by the federal government, and Saudi Arabia flooding the market with oil, lowering prices in an effort to crowd out the competition. The good news is the argument over Peak Oil is defeated; the bad news is environmental zealots continue to work on their next claim: climate change policy.
March 10: Mark your calendar for, “At the Inter$ection of Education and Aging,” an 8 a.m. Foundation Leadership Breakfast at Cobb County’s Georgian Club with Dr. Matt Ladner, Senior Advisor for the Foundation for Excellence in Education. $30. Details here; registration here.
Quotes of Note
“It is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren till she transforms us into beasts.” – Patrick Henry
“The newly released Economic Report of the president from the Council of Economic Advisors mentions “inequality” 235 times and “freedom” just once – and that’s with respect to freedom not even in the United States, but in Malaysia and Vietnam!” – Bryan Riley
“If somebody brings a study forward, they can’t have an interest in the outcome of that study. That’d be like asking the cigarette companies if tobacco is bad for you or good for you.” – John Albers, Georgia Senator
Bad timing: Discussing the president’s proposed $98.1 billion transportation budget, analyst Kenneth Orski asks some thought-provoking questions: “But is more federal spending truly a praiseworthy and politically sound vision? Would Obama’s successor, be it a Democrat or a Republican, embrace the President’s plan that calls for some $550 billion worth of tax increases over the next ten years? Is a tax on oil a wise idea, given the oil industry’s precarious position? And is a huge increase in transportation spending justified after passage of a $305 billion surface transportation authorization just a few months ago?”
Irrational ratio: The Atlanta Regional Commission’s 25-year transportation plan includes $11.9 billion to expand transit in metro Atlanta, where just about 3 percent of residents take transit, and about $16 billion to expand roads.
Buses: Urban residents are not abandoning buses; buses are abandoning them, according to Daniel Kay Herz. He cites a study showing that bus service levels are the best predictor of bus ridership, and evidence that it is not declining ridership that lead to cuts in service, but rather the opposite. Source: NewGeography.com
CON game: Legislation introduced in the Georgia House this week would repeal Georgia’s certificate-of-need law. The law is outdated and is being abused, according to the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Wendell Willard: “The state needs to get out of the franchising business and let the free market operate.” Read the Foundation’s views on CON here. Source: Atlanta Business Chronicle
CON laws hurt: Supporters of certificate-of-need laws argue that the laws, which require providers to obtain state permission to open or expand a health care facility, ensure that hospitals and other providers operate in rural areas. In reality, CON laws appear to harm the rural residents they attempt to protect, according to new research by the Mercatus Center. It found they may limit rural health care by as much as 30 percent.
Tax reform: The Senate Finance Committee passed two tax reform bills this week lowering Georgia’s personal income tax to a flat rate of 5.4 percent – a 10 percent reduction – and eventually lowering the rate to 5.2 percent if revenue targets are met over the next three years. The Tax Foundation projects this would improve Georgia’s ranking on their State Business Tax Climate Index from 39th to 18th.
This month in the archives: In February 2008, the Foundation published, “Express Toll Network Can Drive Congestion Relief.” It noted, “At the same time as an express-lane network frees space in general-purpose (‘no-charge’) lanes, it helps fund the cost of adding lanes and enlightens motorists on how to value the roads they use.” This month, Atlanta’s southside toll lane construction reached the 50-percent-complete mark!
The Forum: Benita Dodd’s “Checking Up on Health” discusses telemedicine’s savings, Healthcare.gov’s failure, transparency, and reasons to question the way things are done.
Visit http://www.georgiapolicy.org to read our latest commentary, “Which Way Employment?” by Harold Brown.
Have a great weekend!
Kelly McCutchen and Benita Dodd
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The Georgia Public Policy Foundation has hit another homerun with its Guide to the Issues. This is must reading for anyone interested in public policy in Georgia, and it is an outstanding road map for conservative, common sense solutions to our challengers of today and tomorrow.