Friday Facts: February 21, 2020

It’s Friday!

Quotes of Note

“How much pain they have cost us, the evils which have never happened.” – Thomas Jefferson

“I would rather a dollar be in your pocket or my pocket for us to spend the way we want it to than us as a state be taking it and trying to spend it differently.” – Terry England, Georgia House of Representatives’ Appropriations Committee chairman

“Collecting more taxes than is absolutely necessary is legalized robbery.” – Calvin Coolidge

Events

March 18: “Brexit: The Good, the Bad and the Messy,” a noon Policy Briefing Luncheon focusing on the United Kingdom at the end of nearly a half-century of European Union membership. Join Andrew Staunton, British Consul-General in Atlanta, and Zilvinas Silenas, President of the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) and former President of the Lithuanian Free Market Institute, for a discussion moderated by Kyle Wingfield. Wingfield was a Brussels-based correspondent for The Wall Street Journal before moving to Atlanta. Georgian Club. Registration and networking at 11:30; event begins at noon. $35. Information, registration here.

April 22: “Second Chance Month Celebration,” a noon Policy Briefing Luncheon with Tony Lowden, Executive Director of the Federal Interagency Council on Crime Prevention and Improving Reentry. Second Chance Month was launched in April 2017 by Prison Fellowship to celebrate brighter futures for those who have repaid their debt to society. Blue Room at the Georgia Freight Depot. Registration and networking at 11:30; event begins at noon. $35. Information, registration here.

April 30: Join the Georgia Public Policy Foundation and National Review Institute for “The Socialist Fantasy,” a noon Policy Briefing Luncheon with keynote speaker Ramesh Ponnuru, NRI Senior Fellow, on Thursday, April 30, at the Georgian Club. Registration and networking at 11:30; event begins at noon. $35. Information, registration here.

Civic engagement

Registration deadline: Advance voting begins March 2 for the March 24 Presidential Preference Primary. The last day to register to vote in Georgia is Monday, February 24. The primary will be the first time voters statewide use Georgia’s new secure paper-ballot. Click here to register or check your voter registration.

Discussing budget policy and more with Augusta-Richmond leaders in Atlanta this week were (left) Foundation Vice President Benita Dodd and Jennifer Owens of the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute.

Georgia Legislature

Budget: After taking a week off for committee budget hearings, the Georgia House has approved an amended FY 2020 budget that altered some of Gov. Brian Kemp’s proposed spending cuts. House leaders repeated their willingness to fulfill their 2018 plan for another state income tax rate cut this year. Next, the FY 2021 budget; Kemp had asked many state agencies to plan for 6% cuts. Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Fasten your belts: A Senate measure would increase the fine for seat belt violations and require everyone in a passenger vehicle to buckle up. The bill would raise the fine from $15 to $75 for not wearing a seat belt, while the fine for adult drivers who allow children ages 8-17 to go unbuckled would rise from $25 to $125. For the first time in Georgia, adult passengers in rear seats would also be required to wear seat belts. Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Priority: The Senate approved a bill that would require that foster care hearings are prioritized “over all other civil and criminal hearings and nonjury appearances in any other class of trial court,” and that case deadlines be tracked for reporting throughout the process. The bill would also allow the Department of Human Services to partner with private services in foster cases.

Opportunity

Moving: United Van Lines’ 43rd annual National Movers Study found about 51% of moves involving Georgia in 2019 were inbound and 49% were outbound. While 62% of the moves into Georgia were for job reasons, 55% of the moves out of Georgia were also job-related. Another 11% of inbound moves were for retirement purposes, while 15% of the outbound moves were for retirement. The nation’s top inbound destination was Idaho; the top outbound destination was New Jersey. Georgia neighbors South Carolina (5), Florida (8) and North Carolina (9) were among the top 10 destinations.

Staying: Metro home sales increased 12.7% in January over the same time last year, according to Re/Max, in the second consecutive month of a double-digit gain, following December’s 15% increase. Low interest rates and economic growth have fueled optimism among potential buyers, and January home prices were up 4.3% over 2019. Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Disappearing workers: Labor participation among 16-24-year-olds has fallen 10 percentage points in two decades, The Wall Street Journal reports, and many working-age men who dropped out of the workforce during the economic downturn now rely on parents and government. More than 1 in 10 of Kentucky’s jobless ages 25 to 64 claim a disability. Almost a quarter of 25- to 34-year-old men without a four-year degree live with their parents – twice as many as those with a bachelor’s.

Rising optimism: The small business Optimism Index started the New Year in the top 10% of all readings in the 46-year history of the survey, rising 1.6 points to 104.3 in the month of January. Finding qualified labor continues to eclipse taxes or regulations as a top business problem for small businesses, according to the report from the National Federation of Independent Businesses.

Healthcare

Charity vs. care: Nonprofit hospitals that generated the highest net incomes provided less charity care to patients relative to their income than their lower-earning peers, according to a new study published in JAMA Internal Medicine. It found that for every $100 of their net income, the top-earning 25% of hospitals provided $11.50 in charity care for uninsured patients and $5.10 in charity care for the insured. Hospitals in the lower third quartile provided $72.30 in charity care for uninsured patients and $40.90 to the insured. Source: Becker’s Hospital Review

E-cigarette retraction: The Journal of the American Heart Association has retracted a study purporting to show a link between e-cigarettes and heart attacks after the authors failed to clarify whether subjects used e-cigarettes before or after their heart attacks. An article on Pubpeer.com concludes, “Their analysis was an indefensible breach of any reasonable standard for research on association or causation.”

Taxes and spending

IRS watching: Conservation easements on undeveloped land have been a way for landowners to preserve the environment and get a charitable deduction in one transaction, by transferring certain rights of ownership to a land trust or government agency to preserve the land. But they are undergoing increased IRS scrutiny, especially on valuation, an article in Accounting Today notes, warning that such transactions should meet the letter of the law and reflect a realistic value.

Taxpayers losing: Taxpayers prevailed in 23 out of 55 (41.8%) of the “significant” tax cases involving state and local taxes in the fourth quarter of 2019, and just 83 out of 218 (38.1%) of all the significant tax cases in 2019, according to an analysis reported in Accounting Today.

Friday Flashback

This month in the archives: In February 10 years ago, the Foundation published, “Land Protection Through Private Alternatives.” It noted, “When government uses funds to buy land to preserve open space, it means the dollars can’t be used for something else. Moreover, it creates a sense of entitlement.”

Visit www.georgiapolicy.org to read the Foundation’s latest commentary, “Reform is Overdue for Federal-State Medicaid Partnership,” by Brian Blase.

Have a great weekend!

Kyle Wingfield and Benita Dodd

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