Quotes of note
Tax Day: “Countries, therefore, when lawmaking falls exclusively to the lot of the poor cannot hope for much economy in public expenditure; expenses will always be considerable, either because taxes cannot touch those who vote for them or because they are assessed in a way to prevent that.” – Alexis de Tocqueville
Election Day: “An election is coming. Universal peace is declared, and the foxes have a sincere interest in prolonging the lives of the poultry.” – George Eliot
Earth Day: “Expect more craziness this weekend. Earth Day is Saturday. This year’s theme: Government must ‘do more’ about climate change because ‘consequences of inaction are too high to risk.’” – John Stossel
Taxes and spending
Tax IQ: Tax Day was April 18. Today in Accounting checked what ordinary Americans know about taxes, asking whether they know how much the federal government collects in taxes and the percentage of Americans who pay no income taxes. Watch the video here.
Rural care: Lost Rivers Medical Center serves the 2,501 residents of Butte County, Idaho. Faced with closure, the rural hospital turned to cutting-edge technology and innovation to survive, including a remote pharmacy, telemedicine, nurse practitioners and partnerships with universities. Source: CNN.com
Energy and environment
Overwhelmed: The number of park units managed by the National Park Service has gone from 390 in 2006 to 417 today, but the agency budget is stagnant and the maintenance backlog is huge. The Property and Environment Research Center (PERC) suggested to a congressional committee that, “By removing unnecessary restrictions on revenue generation, collection, and spending, Congress can empower federal land agencies to be more fiscally self-sufficient.”
Keystone cop-out: After seven years of foot-dragging on the Keystone XL pipeline by the Obama Administration, President Trump recently ordered its go-ahead. Adam Sieminski, head of the Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration under President Obama, told Axios news service, “One opinion I don’t have to stifle anymore is that I think the Keystone XL pipeline should have been built.” This could make bipartisan energy policy more palatable to Democrats, Axios suggests.
Natural gas: For the third year in a row, natural gas will be the primary fuel for summer energy generation, according to the Energy Information Administration’s April 2017 Short-Term Energy Outlook. The projected share for natural gas is expected to average 34 percent (43 percent in the South), down from 37 percent last summer but still exceeding coal’s generation share of 32 percent.
Ten years in: An article this month marks the 10th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision that opened the door for regulation of carbon dioxide. It defends the court decision and vilifies the new administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for questioning whether CO2 regulation is necessary. But William O’Keefe, writing for The Hill, points out “The incidence of asthma attacks has been increasing even as air quality has continued to improve. It is illogical to imply that cleaner air is causing these attacks but even cleaner air will reduce them.”
Mobile Internet: American consumers at all income levels are rapidly reducing wired home broadband usage. According to a study by the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications & Information Administration, the proportion of online households that relied exclusively on mobile broadband service at home doubled between 2013 and 2015, from 10 percent to 20 percent. Wired home broadband use dropped from 82 percent of online households in July 2013 to 75 percent in 2015.
Just the facts: USAFacts is a new project from former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and a Seattle design studio aimed at presenting government data to Americans in a way that’s open, nonpartisan and easy to understand. The website launched this week organizes 30 years of data from more than 70 local, state and federal government agencies into a centralized hub showing how the government makes and spends money. Source: Wired.com
Improving: The 10th edition of “Rich States, Poor States,” a competitiveness index, ranks Georgia 18th in the nation. Last year, the state was 19th. Unfortunately, Georgia still lags North Carolina (No. 3), Tennessee (No. 5) and Florida (No. 6). Source: ALEC.org
Quality of life: Decatur tops the list of 2017 Best Places to Live in Georgia, according to new rankings released by Niche.com based on crime, public schools, cost of living, job opportunities, and local amenities. Decatur was followed by Johns Creek, Alpharetta, Hanover West, Suwanee, Collier Hills North, Roswell, Brookwood, Milton and Cross Creek.
This month in the archives: In April five years ago the Foundation published, “Transportation Tax: About Mobility or About Money?” It noted, “Focusing more on the needs of transportation users – commuters, freight or casual users – would have produced a far different mix of projects than the current list of wants.”
Foundation in the news: The Citizen published Ralph Hudgens’ commentary on returning insurance regulation to the states. Kelly McCutchen was quoted in an article in The Atlanta Business Journal about the legislative session (“frustrating”). Benita Dodd was quoted in an Atlanta transportation article by the Associated Press published by WALB.com (Albany), WTOC.com (Savannah), WTVM.com (Columbus), WABE.org (Atlanta) and CBS46.com (Atlanta).
Visit www.georgiapolicy.org to read our latest commentary, “Environmentalist Rhetoric Endangers Facts on Extinction,” by Harold Brown.
Have a great weekend!
Kelly McCutchen and Benita Dodd
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The Foundation’s Criminal Justice Initiative pushed the problems to the forefront, proposed practical solutions, brought in leaders from other states to share examples, and created this nonpartisan opportunity. (At the signing of the 2012 Criminal Justice Reform bill.)