Quotes of note
“Laws that forbid the carrying of arms … disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes. … Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.” – Thomas Jefferson, quoting criminologist Cesare Beccaria, 1764
“Growing revenues does not mean growing the size of government. Instead, we should seek to keep as many dollars in taxpayer hands as possible to grow our economy instead of state government.” – Kelly Farr, Georgia Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget
“I speak at many U.S. conferences on transportation and infrastructure. At those focused mostly on transportation, the common refrain is that there is so much need (e.g., for ‘rebuilding crumbling highways and bridges’) but so little funding. But when I attend or speak at infrastructure investment conferences, the message is just the opposite: The global infrastructure investment funds have raised tons of money, but can find only a handful of U.S. transportation projects to invest it in.” – Robert Poole, Reason Foundation
August 27: “Election Integrity: Facts, Fraud and Fiction” is the Foundation’s August 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 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: The agenda is online and Early Bird registration is open for the 2019 Georgia Legislative Policy Forum, which takes place Friday, November 15, at the Renaissance Atlanta Waverly. The theme is “Wisdom, Justice, Mobility.” Registration is $75 through September 20; $100 thereafter. Click here to register.
Mission accomplished? Georgia is No. 4 in the nation in Thumbtack’s 2019 Small Business Friendliness Survey, better than its No. 6 finish in 2018. Thumbtack, a website and app that finds local professionals for projects, ranked 49 states and 44 cities based on licensing requirements, tax regulations, and labor and hiring regulations. Small business owners awarded Georgia an A-plus. Gov. Brian Kemp has pledged to make Georgia No. 1 for small business and established the Georgians First Commission to assist in the effort. Source: Clayton News-Daily
Cost of living: Of the 25 largest metro areas, metro Atlanta is the 18th most expensive based on the cost of living. Someone in metro Atlanta with a $50,000 salary moving to New York would need to make around $120,600 to have the equivalent spending power. To move to San Francisco requires about $97,500; to move to Dallas, $51,600. Source: Atlanta Regional Commission
Taxes and spending
Budget cuts: Gov. Brian Kemp directed state agencies to “find efficiencies” and submit plans for budget cuts of 4% for fiscal year 2020 and 6% for FY 2021 by September. One reason cited was “to mitigate the need for larger reductions in the latter half of this year.” State agency budgets saw modest growth in the final years of the Deal administration, but this is the first major effort since the recession to reel in state spending, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
Early departure: More than four in 10 Georgia educators leave the profession before five years of employment, Gov. Brian Kemp notes in an Atlanta Journal-Constitution op-ed about education reform. Did you know that Georgia’s teachers are not vested in the Teachers Retirement System until they’ve taught for 10 years? New teachers must stay 10 years to qualify for at least a minimum pension. Reforming retirement benefits could help attract and retain teachers.
Lowered expectations: A number of pension funds are lowering return expectations for private equity even as officials are counting on this asset class to help their portfolios reach expected rates of return, according to the Pension & Investments newspaper. In sharp contrast to the double-digit returns investors once received, “Investors and their consultants now expect annualized returns in the high single digits over the long term.” Some investors have cut return expectations by as much as half in the past 12-18 months, among them the retirement systems for California’s teachers and public employees and for Los Angeles county employees.
Scooter curfew: Citing safety concerns, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Bottoms has ordered a citywide ban on e-scooter and e-bike rentals and rides from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m., beginning today. Four e-scooter riders have died in collisions that took place after sunset. Source: City of Atlanta
All or nothing: A “Medicare for All” government health plan could put up to 55% of U.S. rural hospitals, or 1,037 hospitals in 46 states, at “high risk of closure,” according to a new analysis by Navigant Consulting. Source: Becker’s Hospital Review
Foundation in the media: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution published an op-ed by Kyle Wingfield on healthcare waivers.
This month in the archives: In August 10 years ago, the Foundation published, “GEFA: Paring Back Mission Creep Could Yield State Half a Billion Dollars.” It noted, “The Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority (GEFA) is a perfect example of a program that was started with good intentions, but over the years has dramatically expanded beyond its core mission.” The agency’s name has changed but not the mission creep: In 2008, it reported total assets of $1.6 billion; in 2018, it was $2.3 billion.
Visit www.georgiapolicy.org to read the Foundation’s latest commentary, “’Love Your Enemies,’ a Timely Reminder for a Polarized Nation,” by Morgan Worthy.
Have a great weekend!
Kyle Wingfield and Benita Dodd
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