Quotes of note
“The ordaining of laws in favor of one part of the nation, to the prejudice and oppression of another, is certainly the most erroneous and mistaken policy. An equal dispensation of protection, rights, privileges, and advantages, is what every part is entitled to, and ought to enjoy.” – Benjamin Franklin
“As all procrastinators know, the longer you delay what you should be doing – and the closer to the deadline you let yourself go – the sloppier the final product will be, the more opportunities you’ll miss and the less you’ll be able to meet your goals. Now Congress finds itself yet again scrambling to avoid a partial government shutdown on Sept. 30.” – Veronique De Rugy
“I always cheer up immensely if an attack is particularly wounding because I think, well, if they attack one personally, it means they have not a single political argument left.” – Margaret Thatcher
Shrinking transit share: In 2017 for the first time the number of people who regularly work from home (7.9 million) exceeded riders of public transit systems (7.6 million). This jibes with a separate Census report that showed the numbers of people who worked from home at least one day a week rose 4.2 million between 1997 and 2010. Source: CBS News
Changing tracks: MARTA has submitted its $2.7 billion “More MARTA” transit plan to Atlanta’s mayor Keisha Bottoms. It proposes $200 million more for the Atlanta Beltline transit project, $150 million less for its proposed Clifton light rail line, and light rail instead of bus rapid transit for Campbellton Road. The MARTA board will vote on October 4 on the plans for the 40-year sales tax. Source: Atlanta Business Chronicle
Criminal justice reform
Correctional supervision: Nationwide, 4.5 million people are on probation or parole, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts. That is twice the incarcerated population, including those in state and federal prisons and local jails. Georgia is still worst in the nation, but the state appears to be improving, having gone from one in 13 under correctional supervision to one in 18 – in less than a decade.
Crime rates: The FBI released its Uniform Crime Rate report this week, a compilation of the volume and rate of violent and property crime offenses for the nation and by state. In Georgia, violent crime declined 8.5 percent overall in 2017 over 2016, but the murder rate was up nearly 2 percent. Click here for more details on specific crime rates and prevalence in Georgia’s metro areas.
Middle of the pack: Georgians who earn at least $371,811 a year are in the top 1 percent of Georgia earners, according to 247WallStreet. The average income of the top 1 percent in Georgia is $995,576; the average income of the bottom 99 percent is $44,147.
Jobs work: Research shows jobs are linked to improved outcomes among substance users in treatment, while unemployment is associated with relapse, according to a report by clinical psychologist Scott Wetzler for the American Enterprise Institute. “Therefore, providing complementary social supports and coercive incentives is important to best engage individuals in treatment and successful work-related activities.”
Taxes and spending
Better days: The Tax Foundation has released its 2019 State Business Tax Climate Index. Georgia’s rank of No. 33 is unchanged from 2018, with neighbors Florida (No. 4), North Carolina (No. 12) and Tennessee (No. 16) ahead of the state. On the bright side, the report notes, “Georgia taxpayers will see lower tax rates next year. The state’s business tax climate currently ranks 33rd, and can be expected to improve … once reform kicks in.”
A chunk of change: Americans on average spent more on taxes than on food and clothing combined in 2017, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistic’s new data on consumer expenditures released this month. Source: CNSNews.com
Flu deaths: Last season’s flu epidemic is estimated to have killed 80,000 Americans, the highest level for at least four decades, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It also caused the deaths of at least 180 children, 80 percent of whom did not receive a flu vaccination.
Whose fault? Under Obamacare, hospitals can be penalized if too many of their Medicare patients are readmitted to a hospital within a month of discharge. In Georgia, 85 percent of such facilities are set to be penalized, according to Georgia Health News. Penalties will be reduced against the safety-net hospitals, which handle low-income patients, but beginning this fall, nursing homes that send recently discharged residents back to the hospital “too frequently” will also be penalized.
Everything old is new again: Physician house calls accounted for about 40 percent of patient visits in the 1930s, the website MD at Home reports. By 1950, the figure had fallen to 10 percent, and by 1980, it was 1 percent. The decline came probably because it came to be seen as an inefficient use of doctors’ time, lab facilities were lacking and emergency situations could arise, according to 247WallStreet. Today, telehealth provides “virtual house calls,” insurance companies are offering at-home checkups and “concierge” doctors offer round-the-clock access and even house calls.
Hacking: More than 175 million health care records have been breached since 2010, and they’re getting more vulnerable every year, according to a new analysis published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The most common entity breached was a health provider, but health plans accounted for the largest share of records breached (63 percent).
Energy and environment
Power struggle: Last winter, France had to import energy from Britain’s coal-fired plants to meet its needs. The country, which has announced plans to reduce nuclear power in its energy mix, essentially is reducing its spending on renewable energy as well, “with the ecology ministry’s draft budget showing a 1.3 percent rise, which will effectively be flat after inflation,” The Energy Advocate reports. Total spending on renewable projects, about $8.5 billion, will mostly go towards wind and solar projects.
YouTube: The 2018 Georgia Legislative Policy Forum sessions are now available for viewing on the Foundation’s YouTube channel. View the Foundation’s September 21 Policy Briefing Luncheon with Bob Poole: “Rethinking America’s Highways.”
This month in the archives: In September 15 years ago, the Foundation published, “State Needs to Come Around to Roundabouts.” It noted, “Legislation to raise the gasoline mileage of sport-utility vehicles by a few gallons over a six-year period is trivial compared to a solid program of roundabout construction.” Today, dozens of roundabouts dot the state.
Have a great weekend!
Kyle Wingfield and Benita Dodd
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The Georgia Public Policy Foundation has hit another homerun with its Guide to the Issues. This is must reading for anyone interested in public policy in Georgia, and it is an outstanding road map for conservative, common sense solutions to our challengers of today and tomorrow.