Friday Facts: July 29, 2016

Three think tanks, one city: Kelly McCutchen (left) of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation listens as Lawrence Reed of the Foundation for Economic Education addresses members of America's Future Foundation in Atlanta this week.
Three think tanks, one city: Kelly McCutchen (left) of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation listens as Lawrence Reed of the Foundation for Economic Education addresses members of America’s Future Foundation in Atlanta this week.

It’s Friday! 

Then and Now: In 1991, when the Georgia Public Policy Foundation was established, the Georgia Dome was under construction. When completed in 1992 at a cost of $214 million ($361 million in 2016 dollars), it was one of the largest state-funded construction projects in state history. Twenty-five years later, it’s scheduled for demolition. The $1.6 billion Mercedes Benz football stadium under construction gets at least $200 million (and by some estimates, up to $600 million) in public subsidies. 

Follow us! This week the Foundation hit a milestone: 3,000 Facebook “likes!” Our Twitter account has 1,650 followers at twitter.com/gppf. Follow us on Instagram, too!

Guide to the Issues 2016: What policies should Georgia adopt on education? Find out the Foundation’s proposals for Georgia’s children. Learn more about transportation, health care, tax reform, criminal justice reform, welfare reform 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

“It has been a source of great pain to me to have met with so many among [my] opponents who had not the liberality to distinguish between political and social opposition; who transferred at once to the person, the hatred they bore to his political opinions.” – Thomas Jefferson (1808)

“It’s ironic that the safety of Tesla vehicles is now in doubt as a result of the company pushing the safety envelope. … They’re not supposed to be driving themselves. They’re supposed to be helping you do a better and therefore safer job of driving yourself.” – Matthew DeBord

“The government’s pension insurance company, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), is broke. Because its creditors can’t demand their money immediately, it won’t have spent  its last dollar for “a significant number of years” yet (maybe ten) – but its liabilities of $164 billion are nearly twice its assets of $88 billion: there is no way it can honor all its obligations.” – Alex Pollock

Criminal justice reform

Smart on crime: Fulton County is implementing court and jail reforms expected to save the county $4 million to $8 million by reducing the number of inmates and consolidating courts. The Criminal Justice Reinvestment Initiative will consolidate Superior, State and Magistrate courts to reduce duplication of services and administration, focus on successful re-entry plans for inmates with mental illness and try to “cite and release” instead of arresting individuals. Source: Fulton County Government

Cleaning the slate: Writing on how former criminal offenders struggle to become productive citizens again, Bryant Jackson-Green of the Illinois Policy Institute points out one reason: “Too often government stands in the way, impinging on the economic freedom that can provide solutions to post-incarceration underemployment and joblessness.” Source: Atlas Network

Transportation 

Driving upward mobility: Planners are keen to provide transit options in low-income communities. But car ownership raises the probability of finding a job, researchers report in Access magazine. “Policies to increase car access among low-income households will most clearly enhance job gain and retention even in large metropolitan areas … and in dense neighborhoods where public housing is located.”

Derailing facts: A Spanish firm bidding on the construction of California’s bullet train said taxpayer money probably would be needed to keep the system operating. The company’s proposal noted that only three of 111 high-speed lines it reviewed across the world could make ends meet, and the line would probably require “large government subsidies for years to come.” The state omitted that information when it published the bid; it was uncovered only when the Los Angeles Times made an open records request.

Regulation 

Affordable housing: The city of Atlanta’s new “Workforce Housing Policy” aims to increase the availability of affordable housing. Builders who receive public funds or grants must set aside 10-15 percent of their residential units to lease as “affordable” housing, “spread throughout a development and matching the quality and appearance of market-rate units.” These tenants will pay no more than 30 percent of their income. In other news, The Wall Street Journal reports builders blame the rising price of housing on regulatory costs.

Payday loans: The federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has proposed new restrictions on payday loans, which are short-term, high-interest loans to individuals who, because of their lack of credit-worthiness, typically have limited options and funds. Who will that hurt? The New York Times notes that after Georgia made most payday loans illegal in 2004, Georgians paid more bounced-check overdraft fees and became more likely to file for bankruptcy. It cited a report by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Education 

Private schools: As of 2012 (latest data), about 86 percent of all U.S. private schools charged less than $15,000 annually per student in tuition, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. The average tuition – not including discounts – was $11,090. As of 2012, the average expenditure per public school student was $12,296.   

Friday Flashback

This month in the archives: In July 10 years ago, the Foundation published, “Why Must Capitalists ‘Give Back’?” an excerpt of a speech by Steve Forbes in Hillsdale College’s March 2006 Imprimis.” It noted, “Statistics show that the U.S. is both the most commercial nation and the most philanthropic nation in human history. And this is no paradox. The two go hand-in-hand.”

Media

Foundation in the news: Foundation Senior Fellow Ben Scafidi was quoted by the Heartland Institute in, “Georgia District: No Education Degree Required to Teach.” 

Visit georgiapolicy.org to read our latest commentary, “Don’t Buy Tax-Free Weekends,” by Scott Drenkard and Joseph Henchman. 

Have a great weekend!

Kelly McCutchen and Benita Dodd

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