Friday Facts: August 12th, 2011

It’s Friday!

– It’s that time again: Redistricting discussions start Monday in Georgia’s special legislative session. As we noted in 2004, redistricting is an inherently political process and this will not change. But we held up states such as Iowa and Arizona for successfully limited the partisanship by passing laws requiring political districts to meet clear, measurable criteria. For example, Iowa requires contiguous districts, unity of counties and cities and compactness. Although the Iowa legislature has the final responsibility for enacting both congressional and state legislative district plans, a nonpartisan advisory commission has initial responsibility. And Iowa law states, “A district shall not be drawn for the purpose of favoring a political party, incumbent legislator, or member of Congress or other person or group or for the purpose of augmenting or diluting the voting strength of a language or racial minority group. In establishing districts, no use shall be made of the addresses of incumbent legislators or members of Congress, the political affiliations of registered voters, previous election results, or demographic information other than population head counts.”

– September 1: “Celebration of Service and Sacrifice:” Ten years after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, changed America forever, Navy Seal and award-winning author Eric Greitens discusses how Georgia can lead the nation in programs and services for our military families. Register at for the luncheon event, on Thursday, Sept. 1, from 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. at the Cobb Galleria Centre. This is part of a long-term project with the Foundation, Ross Mason and the Healthcare Institute for Neuro-Recovery and Innovation (HINRI) to encourage health care innovation in Georgia.
– September 30: 
The Foundation’s second annual Legislative Policy Briefing is scheduled for Friday, Sept. 30, at the Cobb Energy Centre. Last year, more than 250 people attended to hear nearly three dozen state and national experts discuss Georgia public policy. Topics this year include education, transportation, tax reform, criminal justice and health care. Register online at
– October 24: 
Invitations will soon be mailed soon for the Foundation’s 20th anniversary celebration and Freedom Award dinner, scheduled for the evening of Monday, Oct. 24, at the Renaissance Waverly Atlanta. Speakers include Georgia Governor Nathan Deal and U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson of Georgia. Register online at

– “When unions get higher wages for their members by restricting entry into an occupation, those higher wages are at the expense of other workers who find their opportunities reduced. When government pays its employees higher wages, those higher wages are at the expense of the taxpayer. But when workers get higher wages and better working conditions through the free market, when they get raises by firms competing with one another for the best workers, by workers competing with one another for the best jobs, those higher wages are at nobody’s expense. They can only come from higher productivity, greater capital investment, more widely diffused skills. The whole pie is bigger – there’s more for the worker, but there’s also more for the employer, the investor, the consumer, and even the tax collector.” – Milton Friedman

– Paying more for tuition? An analysis of data from the National Center for Education Statistics shows that from 1989-2009 the number of administrative personnel at four- and two-year institutions grew 84 percent, from about 543,000 to over 1 million. By contrast, the number of faculty increased 75 percent, from 824,000 to 1.4 million, while student enrollment grew 51 percent, from 13.5 million to 20.4 million.  Source: Investor’s Business Daily

The Forum
– The Forum, the Foundation’s blog, has the latest news and views and an opportunity for readers to interact with the Foundation’s experts.  This week, Forum editor Mike Klein wrote on how Attorney General Sam Olens is pushing for a rewrite of the state Open Meetings and Records Act; Georgia intends to apply for waivers that would exempt the state from requirements in the No Child Left Behind, and Governor Nathan Deal’s response when asked whether the state transportation sales tax referendum is in trouble. Read these articles and more at

Health care
 The Canadian government’s greater intervention in prescription drug markets offers no affordability advantages for consumers compared to competitive markets in the United States, according to a new study by the Fraser Institute. “While brand-name drugs in Canada are significantly cheaper on average than in the United States, generic drugs in Canada are about 90 percent more expensive on average. Americans also tend to substitute lower-cost versions of drugs for relatively more expensive brands more often than Canadians; and per capita after-tax incomes are higher in the United States than in Canada.”

– The special legislative session convening Monday will focus on congressional redistricting but include a discussion on rescheduling the vote on a proposed penny regional transportation sales tax. Originally scheduled for the summer of 2012, the voter referendum could be added to the November 2012 general election ballot. If this wereFacebook we’d check the “Like” button. … “Special” elections bring out “special” interests.– Declaring gas tax financing of roads “not sustainable,” Florida Secretary of Transportation Ananth Prasad says that tolls will be the first choice for financing all new capacity and doing major bridge replacements, “or at the very least tolls should complement traditional funding in delivering the improvements and new capacity” in Florida. According to a statement from Prasad, Governor Rick Scott is determined to accelerate construction while the private sector has spare capacity and while people and companies are looking for work. They want to bring a billion dollars’ worth of projects into the current fiscal year. Source: Tollroadsnews
– Just how many jobs did the federal stimulus funds for transportation generate? The Reason Foundation’s Bob Poole found a “reality check” in the numbers recently released by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). A 2007 Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) model claims each $1 billion in federal transportation spending creates (or saves) 34,779 jobs.  The GAO analyzed the 2009 stimulus (ARRA) spending of $27.5 billion, which did not require the normal 20 percent state match. It was the equivalent of $22 billion in normal federal highway funds. Thus, it should have produced 765,138 jobs (22 x 34,779). The ARRA money in fact created a mere 65,110 direct jobs at any one time. Since the FHWA model estimates there are 1.98 “downstream” jobs for every direct job created, the total should be about 195,000. That’s only about 25 percent of the 765,138 predicted by the FHWA model.

Taxes and Spending
– Since the recession bottomed out, 37 percent of all new jobs in the United States have been created in Texas, even though the number of government jobs in Texas has declined by 1.1 percent in the last year. During the recently concluded legislative session, Texas also reduced taxes for 40,000 small businesses.  How does a state help create 45 percent of all new non-farm jobs, balance a budget, cut taxes and dramatically expand world-renowned medical centers in these tough economic times? Because of right to work, low taxes and fair courts, according to Joseph Nixon, a senior fellow with the Texas Public Policy Foundation. Read more here: Source: Daily Caller
– Wisconsin’s Republican-controlled state legislature took on the public employees’ unions, eliciting a recall effort that ended this week with Democrats gaining just two of six seats challenged. It hasn’t hurt that Gov. Scott Walker’s reforms have helped school districts save millions of dollars by abolishing the main Wisconsin teachers’ union’s insurance racket, according to David Freddoso of the Washington Examiner. “Nor does it hurt that Wisconsin, under the business-friendly leadership of Walker and a Republican state legislature, created more than half of the jobs created in the United States during the month of June.”

– Visit to read the Foundation’s latest commentary, “Seven Taxpayer-friendly Strategies for Transportation,” by Samuel Staley, Shirley Ybarra,Erich W. Zimmerman and Nick Donohue.

Have a great weekend.

Kelly McCutchen

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