Friday Facts: December 6, 2019

It’s Friday!

News and events

January 28, 2020: The Georgia Public Policy Foundation celebrates 29 years of policy over politics with an Anniversary Celebration and Freedom Award Dinner in the Egyptian Ballroom of the Fox Theatre on Tuesday, January 28! The keynote speaker is John A. Allison, retired CEO of BB&T and the Cato Institute. The Foundation’s prestigious Freedom Award will be presented to Sunny K. Park. Information here.

We’re hiring: The Foundation is in search of a Policy and Research Director to work with the President and Vice President to set policy positions and priorities among our issues, which include education, healthcare, transportation, tax and spending, regulation, housing affordability, criminal justice reform, and energy and the environment. Find out more at talentmarket.org/policy-gppf/.

Giving Tuesday: The Foundation raised almost $6,000 on Giving Tuesday (December 3) through email and Facebook requests. As an organization that neither solicits nor accepts government funding, the voluntary contributions by private citizens are crucial to our policy successes in Georgia. We appreciate your support! Please consider including a tax-deductible contribution to the Georgia Public Policy Foundation as part of your end-of-year giving.

Quotes of note

“People don’t understand what bipartisan means. Bipartisan is a state of mind and a state of being. We’ve got too many people describing the problems and not enough people looking for the answers.” – Johnny Isakson, U.S. Senator from Georgia, in his farewell address December 4

“Georgia continues to rank near the top for economic freedom, though it falls below several of its regional neighbors. The primary factor preventing the state from ranking even higher is its above-average income tax rates. Since income taxes are the most harmful for economic growth and most of its regional neighbors have lower rates or no income tax at all, further rate reductions should be a top priority for state policymakers.” – Dean Stansel

“All the public business in Congress now connects itself with intrigues, and there is great danger that the whole government will degenerate into a struggle of cabals.” – John Quincy Adams, Journal entry (January 1819)

“We have the Office of Family Independence. It’s called that. It’s not called the Office of Family Dependence. Our obligation to the public is to assist individuals who are able to work.” – Tom Rawlings, Georgia Division of Family and Children Services Director

Opportunity

Welfare to work: The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced this week it plans to limit the ability of states to waive work requirements for food stamp eligibility among able-bodied adults ages 18-49 without dependents. About 688,000 people could be affected, including 54,000 in Georgia, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Currently, work requirements can be waived in in areas with jobless rates as low as 2.5%; by April, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue proposes to allow waivers at 6% unemployment.

Going down: The nation’s total fertility rate continues to fall, according to 2018 birth data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The total fertility rate (TFR) is “the expected number of lifetime births per woman given current birth rates by age.” Generally, the TFR needs to be at least 2.1 for a society to maintain its population. But 2.1 was last reached in 2007, after recovering from 1.98 in 1995. In 2018 it was 1.73, a 10.4% drop from the 2010 rate of 1.93. Source: NewGeography.com

Education

Needs improvement: U.S. students are making no improvement in math or reading, according to the latest results from a respected international test show, the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA.) The trend has persisted since the test began in 2000, although U.S. students have improved in science on the exam, which is given to 15-year-olds. “Common Core, a set of national curriculum, testing, and instruction mandates the Obama administration pressured states into beginning in 2009, dictates reading and math instruction, not science,” notes an op-ed in The Federalist.

Where’s it going? From 1992 to 2014, per student spending at America’s district schools increased 27%, adjusted for inflation, yet average teacher salaries fell 2%. “Where did the money go? Disproportionately, it was absorbed by bureaucracies,” note Michael Q. McShane and Jason Bedrick in a Wall Street Journal op-ed. They cite research by Ken­ne­saw State Uni­ver­sity econ­omist and Foundation Senior Fellow Ben Scafidi on the school staffing surge: “He found that from 1950 to 2015, while the num­ber of stu­dents in Amer­ican pub­lic schools dou­bled and the num­ber of teach­ers grew by 243%, the num­ber of ad­min­is­trators and all other staff rose more than 700%. … If the growth in non­teach­ing staff had merely kept pace with stu­dent en­rollment dur­ing that pe­riod, Mr. Scafidi es­ti­mates, Amer­i­can pub­lic schools would have saved al­most $805 bil­lion, or $35 bil­lion a year – enough to give every teacher in the na­tion a per­ma­nent $11,000 raise.” Read Scafidi’s research on the Georgia staffing surge.

Holidays

Holding steady: Purchasing the gifts included in the song “The 12 Days of Christmas” rings up to $38,993.59 this year, just 0.2% or $67.56 over the 2018 price, according to the 36th annual holiday economic analysis by PNC Financial Services Group. The cost of “five gold rings” increased 10%, while “six geese a-laying” went up almost 8%. 

Healthcare

Enrollment: There were 173,337 Georgians among the 2,876,998 individuals in 38 states that used HealthCare.gov in November to enroll in a healthcare plan for 2020, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Open enrollment ends December 15. A total of 458,437 Georgians selected plans during open enrollment last year.

Media

Social media: The Foundation has 3,612 Facebook likes, 1,947 Twitter followers and 851 Instagram followers. Join in for up-to-date posts!

Foundation in the news: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution published Kyle Wingfield’s op-ed on Gov. Kemp’s healthcare waiver requests. Washington’s WJLA-TV quoted Benita Dodd in a news segment on streetcars. The Citizen published Benita’s Thanksgiving commentary on Georgians’ reasons to be thankful. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on the 2019 Georgia Legislative Policy Forum.

Friday Flashback

This month in the archives: In December 20 years ago, the Foundation published, “Roadless Areas Paved with Politics.” It noted, “[T]he real issue is the president’s usurpation of a congressional power. It is Congress who legally designates wilderness areas. We vote for Congress to make the weighty decisions, not one person acting out of political convenience.”

Visit www.georgiapolicy.org to read the Foundation’s latest commentary, “Georgia Blazes a Trail with a Bold Healthcare Plan,” 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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