Quotes of note
“Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.” – Frederick Douglass
“This is a free country, and people are free to believe anything they wish. But life in this country will grow steadily less free if fundamental elements of fairness, like the presumption of innocence, are simply jettisoned when an accusation is made by someone who says with seeming sincerity that she was sexually assaulted. Or when a serious accusation is made against someone who happens to belong to a disfavored group.” – Jeff Jacoby
Fiscal soundness: The Mercatus Center at George Mason University has released its 2018 fiscal ranking of states based on five measures: cash solvency, budget solvency, the ability to meet long-term spending commitments, state spending and taxes as a share of personal income, and unfunded pension liabilities and debt. For 2016 (latest data), the top five most fiscally sound states were, in order: Nebraska, South Dakota, Tennessee, Florida and Oklahoma. The five worst states, starting at the bottom: Illinois, Connecticut, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Kentucky. Georgia was No. 18, trailing all its neighbors except South Carolina (No. 20). Source: Investor’s Business Daily
I owe, I owe: States’ long-term liabilities have increased over time on average, with a big jump since 2015, according to Veronique De Rugy of the Mercatus Center, citing the center’s fiscal ranking of states. “This is partly due to a recent transparency requirement by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board that makes states report unfunded pension obligations on their balance sheets. Under the older standards, states didn’t have to report the true size of their pension liabilities,” she notes. From 2006 to 2014, long-term liabilities per capita grew by about 4 percent annually, on average. Between fiscal year 2015 and fiscal year 2016, that average ballooned by 54 percent, she notes.
Up, up and away: The U.S. Postal Service proposes raising the price of a first-class stamp by 10 percent to 55 cents and increasing rates on a popular option used by Amazon and other shippers by more than 12 percent as the agency seeks to shore up its finances. The increase on first-class stamps would be the largest on a percentage basis in more than three decades. Source: Wall Street Journal
Free ride ends: As expected, use of the new reversible express toll lanes through Cobb and Cherokee counties declined once the toll kicked in for Peach Pass drivers. There was no charge for the first two weeks after the lanes opened September 8. More than 300,000 drivers used the lanes in less than three weeks of operation. The tolls averaged $1.27 per day in the first few days. Source: Marietta Daily Journal
Direct primary care: Nebraska state employees are now able to enroll in a direct primary care pilot program from fiscal year 2019-20 through FY 2021-22. A low-cost alternative to the traditional insurance model, DPC enables patients to contract directly with their doctors for primary care services such as office visits, medication and lab tests, with greater access to doctors, paid for through a monthly fee. Employees will also receive health insurance to cover medical needs beyond primary care. Source: Heartland Institute
Coverage: A bid to derail the Trump administration’s expansion of short-term health plans died in the Senate this week, even with Sen. Susan Collins providing the lone Republican vote for the resolution. The 50-50 tie failed to reverse new regulations allowing insurers to sell short-term health plans outside the Obamacare markets for up to a year, rather than the previous limit of three months. Source: Politico.com
Energy and environment
Then and now: Hurricane Michael, which made landfall in the Florida Panhandle as a Category 4 hurricane Wednesday, charged into Georgia at Category 3, the first storm of that strength to make a direct hit on the state since 1898, according to Channel 2 Action News meteorologist Brad Nitz. At least one person died in Georgia and hundreds of thousands of Georgians were left without power. By comparison, the 1898 Georgia hurricane killed 179 people. Brunswick was most affected in 1898; a 16-foot surge was recorded.
YouTube: View the 2018 Georgia Legislative Policy Forum sessions 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 October 15 years ago, the Foundation published, “Foundation’s Role in Transforming Health Care in Georgia is Welcomed.” It noted, “As we seek to transform our health care system, we must focus on quality and outcomes, on individual responsibility, on using information technology and on patient safety.”
Visit www.georgiapolicy.org to read our latest commentary, “Georgia’s Teacher Pension Plan Faces Significant Financial Risk,” by Evgenia Sidorova.
Have a great weekend!
Kyle Wingfield and Benita Dodd
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I wanted to publicly say how much I appreciate Georgia Public Policy Foundation. For those of you that will be entering the Legislature or are relatively new you may not quite yet appreciate how much we rely on Georgia Public Policy Foundation’s research and work. As you know we’re a citizen’s legislature. We have very little staff. They have been an invaluable, invaluable resource to us. To put this [Forum] on and the regular programs that they do throughout the year make us better at what we do. (At the 2012 Georgia Legislative Policy Forum.)