Mark your calendar! The 2019 Georgia Legislative Policy Forum will take place on Friday, November 15, at the Renaissance Waverly Atlanta. Details to follow; click here to view video coverage of previous events.
Quotes of note
“In many intellectual and political circles, the pursuit of profits is seen as evil. However, this pursuit forces entrepreneurs to find ways to either please people efficiently or go bankrupt. Of course, they could mess up and avoid bankruptcy if they can get government to bail them out or give them protection against competition.” – Walter Williams
“Of course, not every charter school is good. Not every charter school is a success. But if there has ever existed anything like a broad point of left–right agreement in the American education debate, it’s that charters represent a vital piece of the educational puzzle, an option that can and does transform students’ lives.” – David French
“The war which established Memorial Day had for its main purpose the enforcement of the Constitution. The peace which followed that war rests upon the universal observance of the Constitution. This Union can only be preserved, the States can only be maintained, under a reign of national, local, and moral law, under the Constitution established by Washington, under the peace provided by Lincoln.” – Calvin Coolidge
Taxing consumption: Sales taxes are more economically neutral than taxes on capital and income, the Tax Foundation reports, “because they target only current consumption, while income taxes hit both present consumption and future consumption.” Click here to see how the Tax Foundation ranking of states’ reliance on sales taxes for revenue generation. (Georgia is No. 25 in the nation.)
Backwash: Grocery employees’ paychecks are shrinking in the wake of Philadelphia’s soda tax, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. Acme Markets, which has 16 grocery stores in Philadelphia, cut employee hours after soda sales dropped as much as 80 percent. Sales of other items covered by the tax, such as juices, creamers and energy drinks, were down 30 percent, and the number of customers declined by 5 percent. On top of that, the tax is bringing in less revenue than anticipated and – as expected – researchers reported customers purchased the products elsewhere.
By the numbers:
$7.8 billion: Total federal expenditures on Medicaid in Georgia for fiscal year 2018.
$2.8 billion: Claims payments for fiscal year 2018 by Georgia’s State Health Benefit Plan.
$2.4 billion: The value of food items purchased by eligible residents of Georgia using an EBT card under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps) in fiscal year 2018.
$34 million: The total cash assistance provided to 16,278 recipients under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) in Georgia in fiscal year 2018.
Source: Georgia Department of Audits and Operations
Lowering the bar: The College Board is assigning “adversity scores” of one to 100 for disadvantaged SAT-takers, using 15 different metrics regarding their background. “Ultimately, this will render the SAT effectively meaningless,” writes Mary Clare Amselem of the Heritage Foundation, arguing that instead of artificially inflating scores, policymakers should level the playing field for students by expanding education choice.
Education: The nation spent a total of $694.3 billion on public school systems in fiscal year 2017, up 4.4 percent from FY 2016 and the largest annual increase in public school spending since 2008, according to the Census Bureau.
Accountability: More than three-quarters of states have at least part of their Medicaid programs operating under an 1115 waiver. These programs represented nearly one-third of Medicaid spending in 2016, the Government Accountability Office reported, with demonstration costs totaling at about $108 billion. But efforts to monitor these waivers are limited because the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services lacks protocol for waiver oversight, according to GAO. Source: Health Payer Intelligence
Diabetes: With more than one in three Americans living with prediabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, insurers are actively seeking out innovative prevention strategies. The CDC reports its Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), which educates on healthy behaviors, has helped individuals with prediabetes over age 60 reduce their risk by 71 percent by losing 5-7 percent of body weight. Insurer Cigna reports the improved health of program beneficiaries reduced their net medical costs up to $972 each when compared to spending for non-DPP members. Source: Health Payer Intelligence
Good going: For the first time in four years, the National Safety Council estimates, there will be fewer than 400 fatalities in motor vehicle accidents over the three-day Memorial Day weekend. It projects 380 fatalities, acknowledging an overall leveling off of roadway deaths after the deadliest three-year period in a half a century.
Autonomous vehicles: By programming a small fleet of miniature robotic cars, researchers from Cambridge University found that connected autonomous vehicles could improve traffic flow at least 35 percent, because “the advantage of vehicles working together using artificial intelligence is that they will keep moving smoothly instead of bunching up,” Britain’s Daily Mail reports.
Mailbots: The U.S. Postal Service is testing self-driving trucks in a two-week intercity pilot between Phoenix and Dallas. Certified safety drivers and engineers ride along in the trucks to monitor vehicle performance and ensure safety. Autonomous vehicles will help deal with a growing shortage of long-haul drivers, projected to reach 175,000 by 2024. Source: GCN.com
Foundation in the news: The Daily Citizen reported on Kyle Wingfield’s speech to the League of Women Voters in Dalton. The Georgia CEO Network published Benita Dodd’s commentary on housing affordability. The Marietta Daily Journal published Benita Dodd’s letter to the editor about the Cobb County Planning Commission’s opposition to a zoning application to accommodate a program for homeless men. (The Zoning Board allowed the applicant to withdraw its rezoning application and submit a land-use permit instead.)
This month in the archives: In May 15 years ago, the Foundation published, “Asthma and Pollution: a Puzzling Picture.” It noted, “If the worst respiratory sickness occurs in sites and seasons that don’t coincide with the worst pollution, we should be re-examining the regulations intended to reduce that sickness.
Have a great Memorial Day weekend. Please pause a moment to honor the nation’s military heroes who gave their lives to protect ours.
Kyle Wingfield and Benita Dodd
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