July 1, 2016
Then and Now: In 1991, when the Georgia Public Policy Foundation was established, U.S. Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), the only Republican among Georgia’s 10 Congressmen and two senators, was the Minority Whip of the House. Both chambers were majority Democrat. Today, both chambers are majority Republican; the former Georgia Congressman and U.S. House Speaker is being mentioned as a running mate for presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump; both Georgia senators and 10 of the 14 Congressmen are Republican. U.S. Rep. John Lewis is the only current Georgia member from the 102nd Congress.
Guide to the Issues 2016: Find out what the Foundation proposes on issues such as transportation, health care, education, taxes and more. Currently 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
“I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.” – John Adams
“America’s Founders and many successive generations believed in natural rights. To establish a government based on the consent of the governed, as the Declaration of Independence makes clear, they gave up only that portion of their rights necessary to create a limited government of the kind needed to secure all of their rights. The Founders then structured that government so that it could not jeopardize the liberty that flowed from natural rights. Even though this liberty is inherent, it is not guaranteed. … Over the lifespan of our great country, many occasions have arisen that required this liberty, and the form of government that ensures it, to be defended if it was to survive.” – Clarence Thomas, U.S. Supreme Court Justice
A capital idea: Atlanta is among the 17 cities that will benefit from the Walton Family Foundation’s new charter school initiative! The $250 million Building Equity Initiative is the first nonprofit effort to provide public charter schools with access to capital to create and expand facilities. Such schools typically do not receive much capital funding and must instead fund their buildings from their operating budget, a reason many charters run into financial problems.
Freedom and justice: Governor Nathan Deal has declared July Re-entry Awareness Month, to highlight the plight of people released from prison. Find out the Foundation’s proposals for criminal justice reforms in our Guide to the Issues. Source: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer
Energy and environment
Flicker of doubt: The Carl Vinson Institute issued a report this month on opportunities for local governments to finance and implement solar energy projects. As the Foundation highlighted about the disaster of a solar project in Dublin, Ga., such propositions put taxpayers and ratepayers at risk. Georgians already are skeptical: Georgia Power established its Green Energy program in 2003; in March 2016, it reported 3,616 customers voluntarily enrolled – out of about 2.4 million customers!
Pensions and benefits
Withdrawal symptoms: It’s time for the oldest of the boomers to spend and pay taxes on 401(k)s and IRAs. At age 70½, the bill comes due on all those tax-deferred retirement savings accounts, and this week the oldest baby boomers will begin to reach that finish line, with millions more to follow. Source: Bloomberg
Brexit fallout: Most U.S. public employee retirement systems are heavily invested in stocks, counting on high returns to cover the funding chasms created by decades of over-promising benefits and underfunding annual contributions, writes Chuck Reed, a board member of the Retirement Security Initiative. They have become unsustainable, a problem compounded by continually increasing benefits based on unrealistic and risky market expectations, and the stock market’s aftershocks from Britain’s referendum on exiting the European Union should serve as a wakeup call. Source: FoxandHoundsDaily.com
Taxes and spending
6 years to income tax-free: Tennessee does not tax income from residents’ labor. Now, by implementing a six-year phaseout of its 6 percent tax on investment income, Tennessee becomes only the second state in history to repeal an income tax. (The other was Alaska, in 1980.) Sadly, Georgia legislators refuse to acknowledge the need for any form of personal income tax reform.
Brexit motivation: British voters decided 52-48 percent this week to exit the European Union. A report from Britain’s Institute for Economic Affairs beforehand explained: “The institutions of the EU all have an incentive to promote centralization as this increases their power. … Far from just ensuring freedom of trade, the EU has broadened its scope, not least through Court decisions, to try to ‘level the regulatory playing field’.”
This month in the archives: In July 10 years ago, the Foundation published, “SyncTrans: A Vision for the Future of Mass Transit.” It noted, “For mass transit to entice drivers out of their cars, it must satisfy consumer demands. In other words, mass transit needs a better product. Despite these facts, the Metro Atlanta area seems intent upon building more rail-based transit.” Read our 2016 update here.
Foundation in the news: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution published Kelly McCutchen’s op-ed dismissing Medicaid expansion for Georgia; the op-ed is the Foundation’s latest commentary. The AJC cited Kelly extensively in a front-page article Thursday on state spending. He was interviewed by Tim Bryant of WGAU-AM about Medicaid expansion.
Have a great Fourth of July weekend!
Kelly McCutchen and Benita Dodd
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The Foundation should take a lot of pride in your influence on Georgia governmental policy over the past several years. If you look back on several things that you were crying in the wilderness about several years ago, you will find that Governor Miller adopted them…your influence and your pressure on that process has been a major factor in governmental policy in Georgia. You should be congratulated.