Friday Facts: August 16, 2019

It’s Friday! 

Quotes of note 

“Dependence begets subservience and venality, suffocates the germ of virtue, and prepares fit tools for the designs of ambition.” – Thomas Jefferson (1781)

What we need is a coming together, not taking advantage of a crisis or, as one politician just said, ‘Never let a crisis go to waste.’ I think that’s the worst advice for our society that we could ever have because as it comes down to it, we’re all Americans. We all love our freedom. We all love our liberty and we expect the government to do what the government can to ensure our rights are protected.” – Barry Loudermilk, U.S. Representative for Georgia

Events

The registration deadline is August 23 forElection Integrity: Facts, Fraud and Fiction” the Foundation’s August 27 noon Policy Briefing Luncheon at the Georgian Club. The speaker is Hans von Spakovsky, Senior Legal Fellow at the Heritage Foundation. $35. Register here.

September 26: “The Student-Loan Debt Dilemma” is a Higher Ed Happy Hour discussion on student loans and college debt at No Mas! Cantina in Atlanta, with keynote speaker Jenna Robinson, president of the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal. $10. Register here.

November 15: Early Bird registration is $75 through September 20 for the 2019 Georgia Legislative Policy Forum. The agenda is online for the daylong event on Friday, November 15, at the Renaissance Atlanta Waverly. The theme: “Wisdom, Justice, Mobility.” Click here to register.

Jeffrey Dorfman

Opportunity

Congratulations to Dr. Jeffrey Dorfman, University of Georgia professor and Senior Fellow at the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, who has been named the State Fiscal Economist by Gov. Brian Kemp. Dorfman is author of the Foundation’s Issue Analysis on education scholarship accounts (ESAs), published in January. Among his new responsibilities: Develop forecasts based on the state’s tax revenue and manage the development of fiscal impact estimates of tax-related legislative proposals.

Technology

Data breaches: With 3,800 data breaches reported in the first six months of 2019 – 54% more than the same period last year – it’s on track to be the worst year on record for data breaches, according to a report by Risk Based Security. Through June 30, more than 4.1 billion records were exposed; three breaches were among the 10 largest breaches of all time.

Proactive: Governor Brian Kemp has ordered twice-yearly cybersecurity training for state employees. “Clearly, state agencies are being targeted,” Kemp said. “We’ve got to be more aggressive in defending against that.” The directive comes after three state agencies were hit by ransomware attacks in the past six weeks. Source: WSB-TV

Far from the tree: “Gene silencing” has reduced the amount of polyphenol oxidase – the enzyme that causes browning in apples – to create a biotech, non-browning Arctic apple that has a 28-day shelf life, for use in the food service industry. The standard shelf life of an apple is 18-21 days. Source: Bio Smartbrief 

Education

Opening doors: Georgia inmates earned 3,021 high school-equivalency diplomas and high school diplomas in fiscal 2019, according to the Georgia Department of Corrections. “Creating pathways for educational success allows offenders the opportunity to gain the skills needed to re-enter society as productive citizens,” said Commissioner Timothy C. Ward. The department began partnering with Foothills Education Charter High School in 2015.

Higher and higher ed: Several presidential candidates have proposed substantial funding increases for federal loans and grants as the cost of college education increases. But “evidence broadly suggests that institutions of higher education are capturing need-based federal aid and responding to increased federal aid generosity by reducing institutional aid,” Mercatus Center researchers report.

Kerfuffle over K12 charter: The 74Million website chronicles a dispute between Georgia Cyber Academy and its operator, K12, as the online public charter school worked to part ways with K12. The Georgia Charter Schools Association issued a news release supporting “the right and responsibility of charter school governing boards to make changes regarding vendors and service providers,” and encouraging both parties to work “to minimize disruption for children and families and maximize student achievement and success.” GCA had more than 14,000 students enrolled in 2018. 

How does Georgia compare in giving you bang for your buck? See what the Tax Foundation says here.

Taxes and spending 

Bang for your buck? The real value of $100 in Georgia is $108.11, according to the Tax Foundation, which compared the value of goods Americans can buy with $100 in every state and the District of Columbia. Georgia ranked 20th in the nation. No. 1 is Mississippi, where $100 is worth $116.69. Last is the District of Columbia, where your C-note is worth just $85.54.

Pension reform

More than change, reform: “Closing a traditional pension plan to new workers has yet to fix pension-funding problems in several states where it’s been tried,” reports the National Institute on Retirement Security. “Responsible funding of pension plans is key to managing legacy costs associated with these plans. The experience of these states shows that changing benefits for future hires does not address an existing funding shortfall.” Source: NJSpotlight.com

Health care

Poor idea: A study by the National Bureau of Economic Research finds that in several Medicaid-expansion states, most people who gained coverage have enrolled in Medicaid regardless of their income. “In practice, ObamaCare has turned Medicaid into an entitlement program for the middle class,” The Wall Street Journal reports.

In hot water: Legionnaires’ Disease cases jumped more than fivefold annually from 2000 to 2017, with as many as 70,000 Americans succumbing to the waterborne disease every year. The outbreaks are caused by bacteria that can thrive in buildings with large water systems; nearly 70 people were believed infected recently at an Atlanta hotel. A new report urges minimum settings for water heaters of 140 degrees (131 degrees at the faucet) and prohibiting low-flow systems in hospitals and nursing homes. “Green buildings have exacerbated problems,” the report notes.

Media

Foundation in the media: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution quoted Kyle Wingfield in an article about the dispute between Georgia Cyber Academy online charter school and its operator. The Albany Herald cited the Foundation in an article on architectural ordinances.

Friday Flashback 

This month in the archives: In August 15 years ago, the Foundation published, “Playing Favorites on Land Use Won’t Solve Congestion.” It noted, “When congestion woes are solved with transportation solutions, the region can turn its attention to the growing market for a diversity of development. Then, a market able to function on a level playing field that accommodates the needs of a diverse population with diverse needs will encourage the kind of healthy competition that produces affordable, accessible housing options.”

Visit www.georgiapolicy.org to read the Foundation’s latest commentary, “Ignoring Trump’s Health Plan Won’t Make it Go Away,” by John C. Goodman.

Have a great weekend!

Kyle Wingfield and Benita Dodd

FRIDAY FACTS is made possible by the generosity of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation’s donors. If you enjoy the FRIDAY FACTS, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to help advance our important mission by clicking here. Visit our Web site at www.georgiapolicy.org. Join The Forum at https://forum.georgiapolicy.org/.

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