Friday Facts: January 24, 2020

When the inaugural Freedom Award was presented to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas in 1993, Foundation supporter Sunny K. Park was there to congratulate him. On Tuesday, January 28, Park will become the newest recipient of the prestigious Freedom Award at the Foundation’s 29th Anniversary Celebration and Freedom Award Dinner.

It’s Friday!

Quotes of Note

“When I was studying economics in college in the 1970s, the professors and the textbooks instructed us that an unemployment rate of about 4% was ‘full employment.’ Can’t go any lower than that. How good is the job picture today? We now have an unemployment rate a half a percentage point below full employment. So, on a scale of 1 to 10, how does this job market rate? It’s an 11!” – Stephen Moore

“Medicaid expansion sounds like a great deal, but in the end it’s really a lot like a bad timeshare offer.” – Jameson Taylor, Mississippi Center for Public Policy

Events

January 28: Ticket sales have ended for the Georgia Public Policy Foundation’s 29th Anniversary Celebration and Freedom Award Dinner, which takes place in the Egyptian Ballroom at the fabulous Fox Theatre on Tuesday, January 28. Three hundred Foundation supporters will join the celebration! 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, philanthropist, businessman, motivational speaker and a great Georgian.

Opportunity

Jobs record: Georgia set another record in December with an unemployment rate of 3.2%, down from 3.7% in December 2018, state Commissioner of Labor Mark Butler reported Thursday. The state ended 2019 setting a record for the total number of jobs: 4.65 million, with just under 70,000 added over the past 12 months, including about 4,000 in December.

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/.

Healthcare

No urgent care: The U.S. Supreme Court has denied requests by Democrat-led states and Congress to fast-track their appeals to a New Orleans-based federal appeals court ruling last month on ObamaCare. That court ruled the insurance mandate of the Affordable Care Act was unconstitutional. “The move likely means that any court consideration of the ACA won’t happen until the fall at the earliest, with any decision likely coming after Election Day,” The Wall Street Journal reported.

Medicare: Medicare could be paying surgeons for postoperative care that isn’t provided, according to a new Harvard-RAND Corp. analysis published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Data suggest surgeons provide just a small portion of the postoperative care built into bundled payments for services, according to the report. Medicare reimbursements for the procedures would have declined by 28%, or roughly $2.6 billion, in 2018 if undelivered postoperative care was not included.

Medicaid malaise: When Indiana expanded Medicaid, as allowed by the federal Affordable Care Act, it was touted as a “conservative” alternative to traditional expansion because the Indiana program included modest work and cost-sharing requirements for participants. But today, “the rising cost of Indiana’s Medicaid program is creating budget challenges that have prevented lawmakers from addressing other needs, including schools,” according to a report by Ray Carter of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs.

Technology

Cost of clicking: The average number of days it takes for organizations infected with ransomware to restore networks is now up to over 16 days, up from 12.1 days in the third quarter of 2019, according to a Ransomware Marketplace report. It found 98% of companies that paid the ransom received a decryption tool and 99% of ransom was delivered in bitcoin. Among Georgia local governments and agencies that suffered ransomware attacks in 2019 were Jackson County, the city of Cornelia, Henry County, the Lawrenceville Police Department, the Georgia Department of Public Safety and the Administrative Office of the Courts.

Education

Choice words: Several U.S. Supreme Court justices roundly attacked discrimination against religious schools during heated oral arguments in a case involving a small tax-credit scholarship program Montana created in 2015. Initially, the program was open to both secular and religious private schools, but the Department of Revenue drafted a rule that excluded religious options. The Institute for Justice joined Montana mom Kendra Espinoza in challenging the ruling.  Source: Forbes.com

Celebration: Started in 2011, National School Choice Week is now the world’s largest annual celebration of opportunity in education. From January 26-February 1 this year, about 13.7 million Americans will participate in a record-breaking 51,300 independently planned events and activities, including 1,950 events across Georgia. Read Benita Dodd’s commentary on school choice in Georgia.  Source: SchoolChoiceWeek.com

Georgia Legislature

They’re back: Follow the Georgia 2020 legislative session online at http://www.legis.ga.gov/.

Budget hearings: Georgia Governor Brian Kemp has unveiled his proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year, which will begin on July 1, 2020. Among his recommendations:

  • A cut in funds available to state public defenders by more than $3 million and an increase in funds available to prosecutors by about the same amount. 
  • A $593,532 cut in the budget of the Chief Turnaround Office, created by the Legislature under the Deal administration to work with failing public schools. The short-lived office “will be folded into a different arm of the education department” run by the deputy superintendent for school improvement, according to news reports.
  • A $3.2 million cut in the budget of the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, responsible for coordinating and improving Georgia’s criminal justice reform program, on the heels of a proposed $2.1 million cut in the amended FY2020 budget. The council provides grants for Georgia’s accountability courts and juvenile justice initiative.

Hair today: Legislation introduced in the Senate targets “hair discrimination” at work, school or when seeking housing and would ban the institutions from discriminating based on how hair is styled. It refers specifically to “braids, locks, twists, or other textured hairdressing historically associated with an individual’s race.”

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/.

Friday Flashback

This month in the archives: In January 15 years ago, the Foundation published, “From Flexibility Flows Sound Water Policy.” It noted, “The federal Environmental Protection Agency, the state DNR and the facts point to an ever-improving environment, not that you’d ever know it from the headlines, protests and fund-raising campaigns.’” 

Visit www.georgiapolicy.org to read the Foundation’s latest commentary, “No Reason to Call Off the Tax Cut Promised to Georgians,” 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 georgiapolicy.org.

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