Friday Facts: October 11, 2019

It’s Friday!

Events

November 15: The agenda is online for the 2019 Georgia Legislative Policy Forum, which features nearly two dozen policy experts and leaders on issues affecting Georgia: education, healthcare, opportunity, regulation and transportation. Registration is $100 for the daylong event on Friday, November 15, at the Renaissance Atlanta Waverly. The theme: “Wisdom, Justice, Mobility.” Read about it here; register here.

Quotes of note 

“Americans chose a free enterprise system designed to provide equality of opportunity, not compel equality of results. And that is why this is only place in the world where you can open up a business in the spare bedroom of your home.” – Marco Rubio

“It’s one thing for Washington to impose additional mandates on big corporations. Those businesses have teams of lawyers and compliance officers to keep up with new rules and help owners stay on the right side of the law. Small businesses don’t. At a small business, there’s the owner, and many times, that’s it. The person who fills out forms and files the paperwork is the same person who works the cash register, sweeps up, and signs the checks. And make no mistake: Federal paperwork is a big problem for Georgia’s small businesses.” – Nathan Humphrey, state director, National Federation of Independent Businesses

“The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.” – Winston Churchill

Transportation

Disappointing ‘adjustments’: The Georgia Department of Transportation announced “schedule adjustments and refinements” to its major projects, including accelerating the widening of I-85 in Jackson County and the addition of I-85 truck lanes south of Atlanta. The I-285 top-end Express Lanes project will be “adjusted” (i.e., delayed) into “smaller packages.” On a brighter note: Citing “ongoing fiscal constraints and increasing need to maintain a state of good repair,” the DOT plans to use public-private partnerships (P3s) and design-build to leverage private capital and accelerate delivery. The Foundation has long urged the DOT to take advantage of P3s.

The Northwest Corridor’s reversible Express Toll Lanes have been a success since opening over a year ago.

Pension reform

Downward adjustments: Just three of 129 public pension plans tracked by the National Association of State Retirement Administrators have assumed rates of return at 8%, according to Pensions & Investments. In 2010, for comparison, 59 plans assumed returns of 8% and 30 assumed rates exceeding 8%. The median assumed rate is 7.25% and three-quarters of the state plans have rates ranging from 7-7.5%.

Healthcare

Savings available: The state could save up to $1.4 billion per year on its healthcare plans for employees and their families by containing costs, a consultant told members of Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan’s Task Force on Healthcare Access and Cost during a hearing Wednesday. The plans cost about $4.4 billion in 2018, but Wendell Strickland, CEO of Strongside Solutions, said Georgia’s could save tax dollars by breaking up the plans into smaller pieces and renegotiating prices. Source: The Center Square

Rural Georgia

Slow recovery: A year after Hurricane Michael slammed into southwest Georgia, many farmers are still trying to navigate the process for receiving federal disaster relief, the Albany Herald reports. The storm on Oct. 10, 2018, made landfall on the Florida panhandle, the first Category 5 storm on record to do so, and swiftly moved into southwestern Georgia. An estimate by the University of Georgia put the state’s agricultural losses at $2.5 billion. Some $134 million in state timber tax credits for affected forest landowners remain unclaimed, the Herald reports.

Taxes

Uptick: State net tax revenues rose by $15.7 million, or 0.7%, in September vs. a year earlier. Individual income tax was down by 2.4%, chiefly due to an increase in refunds issued, while there were increases from sales and use tax (3.9%) and corporate income tax (22.2%). Motor fuel tax receipts fell (2.4%), as did motor vehicle tag and title fees (2%) and title ad valorem tax collections (25.3%). For the first three months of the fiscal year, overall state revenues were up by 0.4% compared to the first quarter of fiscal 2018. Source: Georgia.gov.

Friday Flashback

This month in the archives: In October 10 years ago, the Foundation published, “Ten Principles to Drive Transportation Policy.” It noted, “Clearly, traffic problems are both a sign of a thriving economy and of poor planning.  But throwing good money after bad or tackling every challenge with the same level of enthusiasm and funding is not good policy.”

Media

YouTube: Did you miss a Foundation event? Visit our YouTube Channel to view past events, including “License to Work,” the September 18 event in Savannah on occupational licensing, and “The Student-Loan Debt Dilemma,” the September 26 Higher Ed Happy Hour policy event.

Foundation in the news: The Citizen published Eric Wearne’s commentary, “Interpreting Graduation Rates Not as Easy as ABC.”

Visit www.georgiapolicy.org to read the Foundation’s latest commentary, “Occupational Licensing, an Issue Overdue for Review,” by Kyle Wingfield.

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 website at www.georgiapolicy.org.

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