Friday Facts: October 9, 2020

It’s Friday!


Quotes of Note

“Wealth inequality is indeed increasing, the country does need more tax revenue, and special interests can get government favors. But none of these reasons justifies a wealth tax, which could damage the economy while raising little revenue. Instead, a better solution for raising additional revenue would be to remove the many existing distortions in the tax system.” – Manhattan Institute

“Concerns about social media use and its impact on teen mental and social health were widespread before the pandemic, but it could be particularly troubling now as social media use soars while many teens remain separated from their friends. The continued quarantining of healthy children and adolescents is misguided and deprives them of the childhood play and in-person social interaction that are critical to their growth and development.” – Kerry McDonald 

“It is a general popular error to suppose the loudest complainers for the publick to be the most anxious for its welfare.” – Edmund Burke (1769)


The last of the fall tomato crop ripens this week on the vines in Rabun Gap, just below Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School in Northeast Georgia.

You can make a difference while you shop Amazon Prime Day deals on October 13 and 14. Simply shop at smile.amazon.com/ch/58-1943161 or with AmazonSmile ON in the Amazon Shopping app and AmazonSmile donates to the Foundation!


Guide to the Issues 2020

Solutions for Georgia: The Georgia Public Policy Foundation released the “Guide to the Issues 2020,” on October 1, a compilation of Georgia-focused recommendations for the state’s policymakers. Distributed by the Foundation to legislators and candidates since 1996, the Foundation’s Guide to The Issues 2020 is published online this year. Its 13 chapters tackle K-12 educationhigher 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 has been published in full on the Foundation’s website here and is linked to a printable PDF version.


Elections

On again, off again, on again: Mail-in ballots must arrive by the time Georgia polls close on November 3, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled, overturning a lower court decision. After the New Georgia Project, founded by Democrat Stacey Abrams, filed suit, the lower court extended Georgia’s ballot count until November 6 for ballots postmarked by Nov. 3. But the appeals court wrote, “Voters must simply take reasonable steps and exert some effort to ensure that their ballots are submitted on time.”

Up again: Georgia’s voter registration deadline for the general election was October 5, and a record 7,587,625 Georgians have registered to vote, according to the Secretary of State’s Office. More than 5 million of those were through automatic registration at the Department of Driver Services. Advance in-person voting begins October 12.

On the amendments: Reason Foundation has analyzed proposed amendments on the ballot around the nation, including two on the Georgia ballot. One would dedicate all taxes or fees to the specific program or purpose to which the taxes or fees were imposed and another would waive the state’s sovereign immunity laws, allowing residents to sue state or local governments if they believe a state or local law is unconstitutional. Read Reason’s analysis here.


Energy and Environment

Exceeding expectations: U.S. Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt and Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue joined Fort Benning’s Garrison Commander, Col. Matthew Scalia, last month at the Army base outside Columbus to mark the proposed downlisting of the red-cockaded woodpecker from “endangered” to “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Thirteen military installations in the Southeast committed to recovery goals for the cardinal-sized bird; Perdue attributed the success story to the government partnership with private landowners. Fort Benning, which counted about 153 potential breeding groups in 1998, aimed for 351 breeding groups; today, it has an estimated 412 breeding groups.


Education

Lawsuit: A lawsuit filed by the Georgia Association of Educators and an anonymous Paulding County teacher and student argues Georgia officials did not do enough to keep children and teachers safe in opening school buildings during the pandemic. The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in Fulton County Superior Court. Paulding County, with nearly 30,000 public school students and nearly 3,000 staff, has reported about 300 COVID-19 cases since the school year began August 3. Source: Georgia Recorder

Just the facts: The National Association of Scholars posted a public letter, signed by 21 scholars and public writers, calling on the Pulitzer Prize Board to “rescind the prize” given to writer Nikole Hannah-Jones for her lead essay in The New York Times 1619 Project. The letter notes: “Given the glaring historical fallacy at the heart of its account, and the subsequent breaches of core journalistic ethics by both Hannah-Jones and the Times, ‘Our democracy’s founding ideals were false when they were written’ does not deserve the honor conferred upon it.”


Economy

Recovery: Georgia’s net tax revenue collections for the first quarter of fiscal year 2021 totaled nearly $6.2 billion and marked a year-over-year increase of $365 million, or 6.3%, the Governor’s Office reported this week. Individual income tax collections for September, meanwhile, were almost $1.26 billion, up from $1.13 billion in September FY 2020, an 11.2% increase. This year’s extension of the tax filing deadline because of the pandemic probably has a role in the increase. 

Money worries: As the nation remains in a pandemic-induced recession, U.S. registered voters say the economy is the most important issue of 16 that may potentially affect their choice for president, according to the findings of a new Gallup survey. That was followed by terrorism and national security, the response to the pandemic, then healthcare.


Healthcare

Telehealth tops: A J.D. Power survey of individuals who used telehealth services in the past 12 months yielded a patient satisfaction score of 860 on a 1,000-point scale. This is one of the highest patient satisfaction scores for a healthcare services study J.D. Power has ever done. It reinforces what healthcare experts say: Telehealth is here to grow and thrive, especially after the pandemic resultedin more remote consultations. Source: PatientEngagementHIT.com

COVID-19 status update: New positive cases of coronavirus in Georgia have dropped more than 60% from their peak in July, and the two-week positivity average – a key marker to assess the virus’ spread – has fallen by half since August, Gov. Brian Kemp announced Wednesday at a news conference. As of Thursday afternoon, the Georgia Department of Public Health reports 7,294 COVID-19 deaths and nearly 327,500 confirmed cases since the pandemic’s start. The department updates the information daily at 3 p.m. Visit the website here.


Friday Flashback

This month in the archives: In October 15 years ago, the Foundation published, “A Fine Week for Freedom.” It noted, “Granted, economic development programs are typically well-intentioned efforts by leaders seeking community improvements and are usually quite popular. Even so, good intentions and popular proposals should never be grounds for sacrificing a person’s home or business for the benefit of another private party.”


Visit georgiapolicy.org to read the Foundation’s latest commentary, The Children Left Behind,” by Benita M. Dodd.


Have a great weekend!

Kyle Wingfield and Benita Dodd


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