Happy New Year!
On a personal note: Hearty congratulations to Rogers Wade, chairman of the Foundation’s Board of Trustees, who has been named to the Georgia Trend 2018 Most Influential Hall of Fame. It’s a tossup whether he’s more excited about the Georgia Trend honor or the fact that his beloved Georgia Bulldogs head to the National Championships against Alabama on Monday!
January 23: More than 28,000 events will celebrate National School Choice Week 2018 from January 21-27. The Georgia Public Policy Foundation marks this event annually with a Leadership Breakfast. The keynote speaker is Senior Fellow Dr. Ben Scafidi; the topic is “Georgia 2020: Educational Opportunity for All K-12 Students in Georgia.” 8 a.m. at the Georgian Club. $30. Registration and information here.
Quotes of note
“Happiness depends more upon the internal frame of a person’s own mind than on the externals in the world.” – George Washington
“A wave of optimism has swept over American business leaders, and it is beginning to translate into the sort of investment in new plants, equipment and factory upgrades that bolsters economic growth, spurs job creation – and may finally raise wages significantly.” – Binyamin Appelbaum and Jim Tankersley, New York Times
“Workmen’s compensation, hours and conditions of labor are cold consolations, if there be no employment.” – Calvin Coolidge (1919)
Minimum wage: Eighteen states hiked their minimum wage beginning January 1, ranging from a 35-cents-an-hour increase in Michigan to $1 in Maine. This is expected to provide more than $5 billion in additional wages to 4.5 million workers. But, economics professor Mark J. Perry explains in an article in FEE, “It’s an ironclad law of economics that to stimulate one group with public policies like the minimum wage, protective tariffs, or farm subsidies, another group in the economy has to be equally ‘un-stimulated … merchants, businesses, business owners, and their families in those 18 states.”
Aviation: There was not a single fatal crash of an airliner carrying passengers in 2017, making it the safest year in commercial aviation history. Source: Wall Street Journal
Cellphone ban: Smyrna’s City Council voted to ban handheld cellphone use by drivers. The ordinance, the first in Georgia, takes effect in April. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Highway Loss Data Institute finds, however, “It’s not clear that banning hand-held phone use and texting reduces crashes,” and suggests “broader” measures such as collision avoidance technology will be more effective.
Technology trumps tradition: Las Vegas Monorail ticket sales are expected to fall millions of dollars short of predictions for 2017 and 2018, The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports: about $6.5 million less in ticket sales than was forecast in a ridership study, which didn’t account for the impact of Uber and Lyft.
Charter funding: Georgia’s public charter school students are funded 20 percent or more below traditional school students, according to Tony Roberts of the Georgia Charter Schools Association. That’s because state law requires those state charter schools to receive the average of Georgia’s five lowest funded school districts. Also, most state charter schools have to rent their school buildings. The lower funding coupled with facilities costs often means less money for the classroom, lower teacher pay and high teacher turnover.” Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Best high schools: USA Today published a list of the best high school in every state; Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science & Technology was ranked Georgia’s top high school.
Taxes and spending
Tax policy now: Georgia legislators are proposing a “Rural Relocate and Reside” program that would offer up to $5,000 a year for 10 years in state income tax deductions to new residents in 124 (rural) counties. Source: Atlanta Business Chronicle
Tax policy then: In 2011, the final report of Georgia’s Special Council on Tax Reform and Fairness for Georgians noted, “Consistent with the principles of fairness and equity, we took a critical look at exemptions to the states sales tax system and other tax preferences and have made recommendations to eliminate or sunset many of those.”
President Trump’s Executive Order 13771 directing federal agencies to remove two regulations for every new one they issued, and to cap the total cost of new regulations at zero. A second executive order established in each agency a “regulatory reform officer” responsible for overseeing implementation of regulatory reform initiatives and policies, and a task force to make reform recommendations.
The Bureau of Land Management rescinded its 2015 rule setting standards for fracking activities on federal and Indian lands, in part because, “these standards are duplicative of state and tribal regulations and pose unjustified administrative burdens and compliance costs.” BLM says this will reduce compliance costs $9,690 per well, or $14 million-$34 million per year.
Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke is proposing to open over 90 percent of the total National Outer Continental Shelf acreage and more than 98 percent of undiscovered, technically recoverable oil and gas resources in federal offshore areas to future exploration and development. By comparison, the current program puts 94 percent of the OCS off limits.
The Department of Justice announced it is rescinding 25 guidance documents that are unnecessary, inconsistent with law, or improper.
This month in the archives: In January 10 years ago, the Foundation published, “Crossing the Line: DeKalb County’s New Ban on Smoking.” It noted, “Allowing governments to ban a legal product, no matter how unpopular, is a slippery slope. Today, it’s cigarettes. Tomorrow, when the political winds have changed and a different set of special interests come on the scene, what will it be?”
Foundation in the news: Numerous news articles reported W. Allen Gudenrath, a founding board member of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, was appointed to the Georgia Board of Regents.
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Have a great weekend. Go Dawgs!
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When I served four terms in the state Senate, one of the few places where you could go to always and get concrete information about real solutions was the Georgia Public Policy Foundation. That hasn’t changed. [The Foundation] is really right up there at the top of the state think tanks, so you should be very proud of the work that they are doing!