Friday Facts: June 3, 2016

It’s Friday!

Events 

Monday, June 6: “The Politics of School Choice” is a Leadership Breakfast keynoted by national education expert Jay Greene and sponsored by the Georgia Public Policy Foundation and the Education Economics Center at Kennesaw State University. 7:30 a.m., Room 278, Burruss Building, Kennesaw State University. Parking available in the visitors’ lot. $20 includes event and Chick-fil-A breakfast. Register online here.  Also on June 6, Dr. Greene’s 9:30-10:45 a.m. lecture, “The Foolishness of Trying to Regulate Our Way to School Improvement,” is open to the public. Burruss Building, Room 151.

Then and Now: In 1991, when the Georgia Public Policy Foundation was established, 358,333 Georgians were on welfare (AFDC), compared with 12,913 receiving TANF today.

Guide to the Issues 2016, compiled by the Foundation, is now available online. Each chapter includes principles for reform, facts on the issue, background information and, in most cases, positive solutions to the challenges facing Georgia. 

Quotes of Note 

“All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope.” – Winston Churchill

“Above all, we must realize that no arsenal, or no weapon in the arsenals of the world, is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women. It is a weapon our adversaries in today’s world do not have.” – Ronald Reagan 

“In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.” – Thomas Jefferson

Economy 

Middle of the pack: Georgia’s fiscal ranking is 23rd, according to the Mercatus Center. The state’s total debt is $14.62 billion; unfunded pension liabilities are $95.30 billion on a guaranteed-to-be-paid basis, and other postemployment benefits (OPEB) add $11.14 billion to unfunded liabilities. These three liabilities are equal to 31 percent of total state personal income. Worst in the nation is Puerto Rico; best is Alaska. 

Regulation 

Cost of red tape: With only a few months remaining in the president’s term, the administration released its penultimate regulatory agenda. An American Action Forum (AAF) review of the data found at least $113 billion in planned regulatory costs. This would be in addition to the more than $80 billion in final regulatory costs already published in 2016. Source: American Action Forum

License to kill jobs: Georgia legislators mandated licenses for lactation consultants this year. Writing in the Duluth (Minn.) News Tribune, Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) point out, “The increasing number of professions subject to licensing is making services more expensive for consumers – by as much as $200 billion per year – and it’s making it more expensive for people to pursue those professions.”

Energy and environment 

Greenpeace accused of racketeering: Canada-based Resolute Forest Products is suing Greenpeace in a Georgia federal court after Greenpeace accused it of destroying endangered forests and endangered species. The suit alleges Greenpeace is guilty of racketeering and trademark defamation, and induces donations for its leaders using “sensational misinformation.” Resolute cites “substantial damages in Georgia, including lost customers, lost revenues, cutbacks and layoffs at Resolute’s Augusta facility.” Source: Atlanta Business Chronicle 

Bully AGs: Foundation President and CEO Kelly McCutchen is one of nearly 50 leaders of organizations who signed a letter in support of the Competitive Enterprise Institute this week that opposes an attorney general’s subpoena seeking CEI’s communications on climate change.

Education 

Room for improvement: Georgia’s more than 2,200 public schools got their first  A-F school grades last week, based on factors including student achievement, student growth and achievement gap closure.  At SchoolGrades.Georgia.Gov, see how your school is are performing, its past performance and compare it to other schools. Viewer discretion is advised: Newer schools have less to compare so some grades may be misleading; for example, Atlanta Classical Academy, which opened in 2014, gets a “D.” 

Getting better: The U.S. Department of Education’s latest report shows the nation’s graduation rate reached an all-time high: 82 percent for the class of 2014. That’s an increase of 1 percentage point over 2013. But black, Latino, and American Indian students continue to lag behind their white and Asian peers. Georgia’s graduation rate was 73 percent; for students with disabilities, Georgia’s graduation rate was a dismal 37 percent, compared with the national average of 63 percent. Source: Education Week

Transportation and land use 

Atlanta's population is 463,000; metro Atlanta's population is 5.7 million.
Atlanta’s population is 463,000; metro Atlanta’s population is 5.7 million.

Overhyping downtown: Today a majority of Americans live in very large cities, metropolitan areas with populations above 1 million. But Michael Barone points out, “the urban planning profession remains fixated on just one small portion of these metropolises, the central city downtowns, though none outside New York contains more than 10 percent of metropolitan area jobs.” Source: American Enterprise Institute 

From the Left Coast: The California Center for Jobs and the Economy notes that despite “rapidly rising costs of the state’s traffic congestion and costs associated with the deteriorating condition of the state’s roads, California workers continue to rely on single occupant vehicles for the primary mode of commuting. … The substantial investments in public transit, bike lanes, and other alternative modes have not produced major gains in commuter use.” 

Health care 

It’s National Safety Month!  The number of Americans dying from preventable injuries has reached an all-time high, according to the National Safety Council. Preventable injuries, commonly known as “accidents,” claimed 136,053 lives in 2014 – a 57 percent increase since 1992, when deaths from preventable injuries were the lowest in 68 years. The most likely cause for ages 24-65? Drug overdose. Source: EHSToday.com 

Death rate increases: The U.S. mortality rate increased for the first time in a decade last year, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. The death rate rose to 729.5 deaths per 100,000 people in 2015, up from 723.2 deaths in 2014. Some age-related causes of death increased – as expected – but so did deaths from drug overdoses, homicides, gun injuries and suicides. 

Friday Flashback

This month in the archives: In June 2006, the Foundation published, “A New Day for Georgia Education.” It noted, “Eighty percent of Georgia fourth-graders passed the CRCT reading exam in 2003, RAND found. Just 27 percent of fourth-graders passed the 2003 NAEP reading exam – a 53 percentage-point discrepancy. What does this mean?  It means that we had shockingly low expectations.” 

Media 

Social media: This week, the Foundation has 2,941 Facebook “likes” and 1,603 Twitter followers at twitter.com/gppf. Follow us on Instagram, too!

Visit georgiapolicy.org to read our latest commentary, “Urban Farms: Unlikely Oases in Food Deserts” by Harold Brown.

 Have a great weekend!

Kelly McCutchen and Benita Dodd

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 Facebooktwitter.com/gppf and Instagram.

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