Friday Facts: November 6, 2020

It’s Friday! 

Quotes of Note

“I would relate to the crowds how I called on a certain rural constituent and was shocked to hear him say he was thinking of voting for my opponent. I reminded him of the many things I had done for him as prosecuting attorney, as county judge, as congressman, and senator. I recalled how I had helped get an access road built to his farm, how I had visited him in a military hospital in France when he was wounded in World War I, how I had assisted him in securing his veteran’s benefits, how I had arranged his loan from the Farm Credit Administration, how I had got him a disaster loan when the flood destroyed his home, etc., etc. ‘How can you think of voting for my opponent?’ I exhorted at the end of this long recital. ‘Surely you remember all these things I have done for you?’  ‘Yeah,’ he said, ‘I remember. But what in hell have you done for me lately?’” – Alben W. Barkley 

Economy

Economic development: A study by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy of Michigan state economic development programs mined data from nearly 7,300 deals. It found “only three of the nine programs studied had a statistically significant positive impact on job growth, but this came at a significant cost: On average, the state offered nearly $600,000 worth of incentives for every job created.” As study co-author Michael D. LaFaive wrote in Mackinac’s Impact magazine, “The state could probably do better for the economy by just dropping money from a helicopter.”

Suite spots: Over the next six to 24 months, continuing remote work policies adopted during the pandemic could reduce square footage and occupancy costs by as much as 10% to 20%, according to a white paper published by American City and County.

Fraud: The Small Business Administration provided more than 14.5 million loans and grants totaling $729 billion to pandemic-hit small businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loans. Lenders could accept “borrowers’ self-certifications for eligibility and use of loan proceeds,” so there may be “significant risk that some fraudulent or inflated applications were approved,” the Government Accountability Office reports. Since May, more than 50 fraud-related cases associated with PPP funds have been made public.

Tax and Spend Tuesday: Planning to leave the country now that your candidate has lost the election? Read the Foundation’s weekly Tax and Spend Tuesday post first.

Elections

Taxes: An overwhelming 76.56% of Gwinnett County voters approved the renewal of the county’s penny Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for Education (E-SPLOST), according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Transportation taxes: Voters in Newton Country rejected a county-wide Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax. Monroe County voters rejected a county-wide TSPLOST for the second time, WGSA-TV reports. Monroe’s voters rejected a TSPLOST in 2019; they rejected a regional TSPLOST for Middle Georgia in 2012 and 2017. The ayes appeared to be losing a $12 billion transit expansion vote in Gwinnett County as of Thursday night, with “No” votes ahead by 1,749 and thousands of absentee and provisional ballots still to be counted, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Ballot measures: Seventy-three percent of Georgia’s voters approved a referendum to allow a tax exemption for property owned by charitable organizations for the purpose of building or repairing single-family homes. A constitutional amendment requiring that Georgia’s state fees and taxes collected for a specific purpose are spent as intended passed with 81.4% of the vote. An amendment prohibiting the state and local governments from using the legal doctrine of “sovereign immunity” to avoid citizen lawsuits passed with 74.3% of the vote.

Find more November 3 election results on the Secretary of State’s page, https://sos.ga.gov/.

Around the nation: There were more than 120 measures on ballots in 34 states Tuesday, according for Americans for Tax Reform. View them at www.ATR.org/ballotguide.

What’s next?: The 2020 election is more or less over. Now what? Read Kyle Wingfield’s latest column “Rejecting Nonstop Politics.”

Energy and environment

Plastics: In the wake of the pandemic, plastic pollution is expected to increase by 30% this year compared to 2019, according to the Environmental Science and Technology Journal. Not only is it more expensive to make materials out of recycled fossil fuel-based plastics than it is to create new plastic, but the manufacture of four plastic bottles produces a level of greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to traveling one mile in a medium-sized petroleum-fueled car, BIOTechNow reports.

Healthcare

COVID-19 surcharges: Healthcare providers are adding “COVID” fees to patient bills to help providers offset pandemic expenses ranging from acquiring protective gear for staff to sanitizing equipment more often. The New York Times found the new fees most prevalent in dental offices and assisted living facilities, but they may be coming to more physician offices: In October, the American Medical Association lobbied for a billing code for reimbursement of increased protective gear costs. Source: Becker’s Hospital Review

COVID-19 status update: As of Thursday afternoon, the Georgia Department of Public Health reports 8,126 COVID-19 deaths and 368,368 confirmed cases in the state since the pandemic’s start. The department updates the information daily at 3 p.m. Visit the website here.

Medical Monday: In this week’s “Checking Up On Health,” read about telemedicine’s growing popularity, the expiration date on N95 masks, and more.

Media

Foundation in the news: Georgia Health News quoted Kyle Wingfield in an article on federal approval of Georgia’s ACA healthcare waiver application.

Friday Flashback

This month in the archives: In November 25 years ago, the Foundation published, “Let’s Return Real Fiscal Authority to the States.” It noted, “We must start tying the hands of the federal government. If we don’t do that, much of this discussion –  of what we should do at the state and local level – is simply going to be wasted effort.” Twenty-five years later, states still ignore those wise words.

Visit georgiapolicy.org to read the Foundation’s latest commentary, “Georgia’s Election Mess,” by Benita M. Dodd.

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