Then and Now: In 1991, the year the Georgia Public Policy Foundation was established, Savannah’s new Talmadge Bridge opened to traffic, with a vertical clearance of 185 feet at high tide. The Savannah harbor deepening project under way will increase the channel’s depth from 42 feet to 47 feet to accommodate larger ships at what is now the nation’s fourth-busiest container port.
Quotes of Note
“It is not and cannot become a crime to disagree with a government official. Somewhere along the line, dissent from orthodoxy has transformed from a uniquely American virtue to a crime.” – Kent Lassman
“When I hear fellow conservatives say that liberals are stupid or evil, I can’t help but remember that they’re talking about my friends and family, and I take that personally.” – Arthur Brooks
“Death, taxes and childbirth! There’s never any convenient time for any of them.” – Margaret Mitchell, “Gone with the Wind”
Off track: An audit being released today finds Honolulu’s $6.5 billion dollar rail project, already $1.2 billion over budget, could run another $300 million to $800 million over. It also found the financial plans are unreliable, costs lack supporting documentation, and there is no plan for operations and maintenance costs. Source: Hawaiinewsnow.com
Growing IOUs: In fiscal year 2015, about 10.8 million beneficiaries and their dependents received about $144 billion in Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. The Social Security Administration also detected $1.2 billion in erroneous overpayments, the Government Accountability Office reports, but recovered just $857 million. With just two ways to collect penalties – withholding benefits and voluntary payment – overpayment debt accumulated has increased by 70 percent over the past 10 years. In one case, a recipient was overpaid $165,000!
Inefficient: The Government Accountability Office’s 2016 Efficiency and Effectiveness report identifies 92 new actions Congress and federal agencies could take to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of government in 37 areas. In one case, it found that “some hospitals’ total Medicaid payments exceeded the hospitals’ total operating cost – that is, cost for all hospital services provided to all patients the hospital served.”
Does pre-K work? The research shows neither that “pre-K works” nor that it doesn’t; rather, it shows that some early childhood programs yield particular outcomes, sometimes, for some children, according to the American Enterprise Institute.
Financial technology: Georgia’s financial technology industry, which employs 30,000 people, moves closer every year closer to surpassing New York and California, Bill Armistead writes in Insider Advantage. More than 85 billion, or nearly two-thirds of global payment card transactions, passed through the global networks of Georgia FinTech organizations.
Corporate taxes: Ronald Reagan famously said, “You can’t tax business. Business doesn’t pay taxes. It collects taxes.” The Government Accountability Office reports that corporations with tax liability had $267.5 billion in taxes for 2012 (latest data).
Food stamps: On December 31, the work-requirement waiver for food stamps expired in Cobb, Gwinnett and Hall counties, meaning that able-bodied adults without dependents not meeting the work requirement by April 1 would no longer receive food stamps. The Heritage Foundation reports that three months after Maine reinstated work requirements, its caseload dropped by 80 percent.
Millennials and cars: Despite claims that Millennials eschew cars, their share of new-car sales had increased from 17 percent in 2010 to a whopping 28 percent in 2015, second only to the market share of far more-affluent Baby Boomers, Robert Poole of the Reason Foundation reports.
This month in the archives: In April 2006, the Foundation published, “Legislative Session Good for Business.” It noted, “One of the most important actions during the session wasn’t even a new law. It was Governor Perdue’s executive order to state agencies to provide regulatory flexibility for small businesses.”
Foundation in the News: The Citizen published Kelly McCutchen’s commentary on the legislative session. The Sunday edition of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution published his op-ed on the legislative session.
Social media: This week, the Foundation has 2,895 Facebook “likes” and 1,593 Twitter followers at twitter.com/gppf. Follow us on Instagram, too!
Visit georgiapolicy.org to read our latest commentary, “Transit’s Future is in Innovation, not in Trains,” by Benita Dodd.
Have a great weekend!
Kelly McCutchen and Benita Dodd
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