Quotes of note
“It is difficult to free fools from the chains they revere.” – Voltaire
“A good judge doesn’t give a whit about politics or the political implications of his or her decision.” – Neil Gorsuch
“I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power.” – Thomas Jefferson
Streetcar sensitive: Mayor Kasim Reed is criticizing The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s coverage of the Atlanta Streetcar in two recent articles, both of which quoted the Foundation. Reed accused reporter David Wickert of not providing “a fair reading or an objective analysis.” Benita Dodd has written about this boondoggle here (2016), here (2015) and here (2014).
Energy and environment
Celebrate innovation: Saturday 8:30-9:30 PM is Human Achievement Hour, celebrating innovations that help everyone live better, fuller lives. It’s also an alternate take on the “Earth Hour” campaign, in which participants symbolically renounce modern technology by turning off their lights for an hour. Participate by tweeting and posting; find out more here: http://bit.ly/2nsb4d6.
Feds can help choice: Engage, the newsletter of EdChoice (formerly the Friedman Foundation) lists the Top Five on the nonpartisan organization’s wish list for the Trump administration. Two would resonate in Georgia: a) Cut through red tape like it’s going out of style, and b) connect ESA programs in states to Title 1 and IDEA funding or provide block grant funding to states.
Politics and plats: Boston Public Schools have adopted a Peters’ map that more realistically portrays the earth’s land area than the Mercator projection most have seen. A school official said, “This is the start of a three-year effort to decolonize the curriculum in our public schools.” Source: NPR.org
Special purpose taxes: Once considered temporary taxes, renewal of the five-year Education Special Purpose Local Sales Tax (E-SPLOST) has become routine since the first in 1998. They passed handily – with low turnout in each jurisdiction – in special elections around the state on March 21. Voter turnout for Cobb County’s $897 million E-ESPLOST was 7.7 percent. Just 34,038 of Cobb’s 444,676 registered voters cast ballots; 25,106 voters (73.9 percent) approved.
Did you know? The state budget is the ONLY law the General Assembly is constitutionally required to pass every year. The FY 2018 budget is $49 billion, about half of it from state sources. State funds’ largest allocations include $13.4 billion for education; $5.3 billion for health; $2.05 billion for safety and $1.9 billion toward transportation. For 2017, the General Assembly has issued more than 2,000 pieces of legislation.
Bills of interest that have passed in the House:
A bill that would expand the ability of dental hygienists to provide dental care in safety net settings
A bill increasing the cap on tuition tax credit scholarships
A bill to lower Georgia’s individual income tax from 6 percent to 5.4 percent
A bill that incorporates some of the charter school reforms recommended by the Governor’s Education Reform Commission
Bills of interest that have passed in the Senate:
A bill that would make Georgia the 17th state to authorize direct primary care
Three criminal justice reform bills passed in the Senate, primarily focusing on streamlining the parole and probation system in Georgia as recommended by the Criminal Justice Reform Council, as well as improving juvenile justice outcomes. The bills are here, here, and here.
Bills passing both House and Senate:
A bill reducing some of the onerous requirements on sale of beer from craft breweries (now headed to the Governor’s desk)
Did not Pass in the Senate:
A bill to create universal Education Savings Accounts
Did not pass in the House
A bill that would encourage the development of broadband in rural Georgia
This month in the archives: In March five years ago the Foundation published, “It’s Not Too Late for Georgia Health Reform.” It noted, “The state can be leader of the pack if legislators seize the final moments of the session and embrace the thoughtful reforms available. There has never been a better time to assert state control – the Tenth Amendment – and take charge of Georgia’s health-care destiny”.
The Forum: Read Benita Dodd’s prepared testimony on Direct Primary Care, which passed out of the Georgia House Insurance Committee March 20.
Foundation in the news: An article in The Columbus-Ledger Enquirer cited Benita Dodd’s commentary on Sunshine Week; the commentary was also published in The Coastal Courier. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution quoted Benita in an article on the Atlanta Streetcar ridership. Kelly McCutchen was quoted on federal health care reform in an article in The Marietta Daily Journal, Cobb Life; Cobb Business Journal; Neighbor News; Northside Neighbor and DeKalb Neighbor. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution quoted Kelly in an article about the impact of federal health care reform in Georgia.
Have a great weekend!
Kelly McCutchen and Benita Dodd
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To have an organization dedicated to the study of the problems that face Georgia in a bipartisan way….is absolutely one of the finest things that’s happened to our state.