Friday Facts: October 23, 2020

It’s Friday!

Quotes of Note

“Confidence is contagious. So is lack of confidence.” – Vince Lombardi

“Not voting is not a protest. It is a surrender.” – Keith Ellison

“If a faction consists of less than a majority, relief is supplied by the republican principle, which enables the majority to defeat its sinister views by regular vote. It may clog the administration, it may convulse the society; but it will be unable to execute and mask its violence under the forms of the Constitution.” – James Madison

Economy

Gov. Brian Kemp was rated a five-star governor by the American Legislative Exchange Council for Georgia’s “fiscally strong spending, reserves, welfare, union, debt and education policies.”

Ranking the governors: Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp is ranked the second-best governor in the nation, earning five stars in the Laffer-ALEC Report on Economic Freedom: Grading America’s 50 Governors. “Governor Kemp has maintained fiscally strong spending, reserves, welfare, union, debt and education policies. Georgia’s low levels of spending per GSP and robust economy will benefit future budgets,” the report notes. No. 1 is Texas Gov. Greg Abbott; last is Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo.

Candidates’ tax plans: In this week’s “Tax and Spend Tuesday,” read about the presidential candidates’ tax proposals, telecommute taxes and more.

Hurdles: Rigid regulations continue to deny low-income African-Americans the upward mobility they need, according to Hoover Institution Research Fellow David R. Henderson. He cites minimum wages, which make it less likely for an unskilled worker to be hired in the first place; occupational licensing, which favors existing practitioners; and restrictions on the numbers of charter schools and housing permits.  

Energy and environment

Better than ever: Since 2017, criteria air pollutant emissions have fallen 7%, making air quality the best it has been since modern recordkeeping began, according to an op-ed in RealClear Energy by Susan Bodine of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Bodine explains EPA enforcement offers compliance assistance and forgoes penalties to some, butFor bad actors, formal enforcement and penalties are important to deter noncompliance and ensure that no one profits from their violations.”

Record renewables: U.S. consumption of renewable energy grew for the fourth year in a row in 2019, reaching a record 11% of total energy consumption, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reports. Almost 24% of that was wind energy, 24% was wood and waste energy, 22% was hydropower and 9% was solar power. Source: Energy Live News

Education

The back-to-class case: Tens of millions of students started the school year completely online. The Atlanta and DeKalb County public school systems have announced that in-person classes will be delayed until January 5, 2021 (an unlikely reopening date, given the potential for a winter surge in flu and COVID-19 cases). A Wall Street Journal op-ed cites data in support of opening K-12 schools, including a comprehensive database created on schools that found a COVID-19 case rate of 0.13% among students and 0.24% among staff. By comparison, the current overall U.S. case rate is 2.6%.

The case for testing: Read Kyle Wingfield’s commentary, “To the Georgia State Schools Superintendent, from a Georgia Public Schools Graduate.”

Fall in the North Georgia mountains yields some interesting sights, including these decorated hay bales in the city of Sky Valley.

Elections

Young vote: About one in five active Georgia voters is younger than 29, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Traditionally, this group votes at lower percentages than any age group; even fewer may vote because COVID-19 closed many college campuses to in-person learning. More than 150,000 young Georgians have cast ballots thus far, the newspaper reports. The Secretary of State’s Office announced a record 7,587,625 Georgians were registered to vote by the registration deadline.

Deadlines: Early in-person voting began October 12 in Georgia and ends October 30.

Amendments: Read Kyle Wingfield’s commentary, “Do You Know What’s on Your Georgia Ballot?

Healthcare

COVID-19 status update: As of Thursday afternoon, the Georgia Department of Public Health reports 7,729 COVID-19 deaths and 345,535 confirmed cases since the pandemic’s start. The department updates the information daily at 3 p.m. Visit the website here.

Vaccine readiness: All Americans could be inoculated against COVID-19 by June 2021, according to the head of Operation Warp Speed, a White House task force. “It’s not a certainty, but the plan – and I feel pretty confident –  should make it such that by June, everybody could have been immunized in the U.S.,” Moncef Slaoui told ABC News.

Medical Monday: In this week’s “Checking Up On Health,” read about the ailments of presidents, COVID-19  and “excess” deaths, and the fake sea turtle eggs used to track poachers.

Media

Foundation in the news: The Center Square cited the Foundation in an article about Georgia’s business tax incentives. The Citizen published Kyle Wingfield’s commentary, “For Millions, Healthcare Waivers Offer Hope.”

Guide to the Issues 2020

Solutions for Georgia: Read “Guide to the Issues 2020” a compilation of Georgia-focused recommendations for the state’s policymakers. The 13 chapters tackle K-12 education, higher education and pension reform as well as healthcarelong-term careMedicaid and tort reform. The Guide also provides a state fiscal overview and policy ideas on tax reformwelfare reformoccupational licensing reform and criminal justice reform. Each chapter is published in full on the Foundation’s website here and is linked to a printable PDF version.

Friday Flashback

This month in the archives: In October five years ago, the Foundation published, “Municipal Broadband Puts Taxpayers’ Wallets at Risk.” It noted, “Beyond the ideological argument that telecommunications is not a core function of government, especially in a state and nation that prides itself on limited government, the history of government-operated telecommunications networks across the nation is one of failure after failure.”

Visit georgiapolicy.org to read the Foundation’s latest commentary, “Personalized Health Insurance, Ready to Roll out Today,” by Ron Bachman.

Have a great weekend!

Kyle Wingfield and Benita Dodd

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