Friday’s Freshest: Santa Claus is comin’ to town this week. Legislators don’t arrive until next month.
When they do arrive at the Capitol, there will be lots of extra money under the tree – er, rotunda – to hand out. Or at least that’s the way some folks are thinking about the $6 billion-plus surplus the state ran in the previous budget year. If anyone is thinking about passing out this money as gifts, however, they should think again. That money came from taxpayers and, to the greatest extent possible, should be returned to them.
Quotes of Note
“A good conscience is a continual Christmas.” – Ben Franklin
“He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under the tree.” – Roy L. Smith
“When we recall Christmas past, we usually find that the simplest things – not the great occasions – give off the greatest glow of happiness.” – Bob Hope
On Our Desks
Busy holiday roads: Atlanta traffic is famous, especially around holidays. Regardless of the day or season, the state’s transportation policy goals must prioritize improving mobility and relieving congestion. Objective criteria including benefit/cost analysis should be used when weighing transportation options. We look at several areas that will help ease congestion.
Housing: Georgia needs a market-based solution that can restore housing affordability in a steady but meaningful way. Ed Pinto and Arthur Gailes, both with AEI’s Housing Center, look at this dynamic and how “Light Touch Density” can resolve the supply and affordability conundrum in Atlanta.
2022 elections: 2022 continued the unraveling of a statewide pattern that had stood largely unchallenged for decades: the decoupling of state and federal election results in Georgia. Kyle Wingfield looks at this past fall’s elections and what this emerging trend means for future elections.
Needed healthcare reform. J.Thomas Perdue looks at several key healthcare policy issues lawmakers could address next session, including certificate of need reform. CONs are statutory relics from a bygone era that allow hospitals or healthcare facilities to object to competition from a new facility.
Save the date: The setting for the Foundation’s annual Georgia Freedom Dinner has been announced and registration is now open. The dinner will take place on Wednesday, January 25, 2023, at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre. Table sponsorships are available. Please contact us here for more information.
Transparency: The Biden administration announced it will release ownership data for all 7,000 hospitals that participate in Medicare in an effort to boost transparency. The move comes amid a rapid increase in private equity investments in hospitals, resulting in an increasingly concentrated market. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, the data will be published in an easily searchable format online, and include detailed information about each owner. Updated hospital ownership data will be released on a monthly basis.
Balancing act: The Public Service Commission agreed Tuesday to allow Georgia Power to raise its electricity rates over the next three years, increasing the average residential customer’s monthly bill by about $3.60. Public Service Commission Vice Chairman Tim Echols writes about the various interests he and his colleagues must keep in mind when considering rate increases.
Coweta County: Freyr Battery, whose $2.6 billion plant in Coweta County was announced on November 11, got $358 million in grants and tax incentives from Georgia and Coweta County, reports the Atlanta Business Chronicle.
Poultry plant: Hodie Meats is opening a state-of-the-art poultry processing plant on the site of the former Mount Vernon Textile Mill in Alto, reports AccessWDUN. Entirely American-owned, the multimillion-dollar investment facility will produce custom-cut chicken portions for a national customer base. The company will hire workers from the local population, including some former employees of the textile mill.
Sports betting: There are currently no legal sports betting options in Georgia, but, as Covers.com reported, the issue keeps popping up and will likely be revisited during next year’s legislative session. Georgia legislators are due to return to the state capitol in early January. And, when they do, the matter of retail and online sports betting sites looks destined to find its way into their discussions at some point.
COVID money: The City of Roswell is requesting citizen commentary on how it should spend a $115,472 surplus of federal COVID-19 relief. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Roswell is considering four projects for the reallocated funds: North Fulton Child Development Association Scholarships, Roswell Housing Authority Case Manager, Roswell Recreation and Parks Senior Programming, and Roswell Recreation and Parks Waller Park Summer Camp.
MARTA: The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority is spending hundreds of millions of dollars to replace its rail fleet, which officials say will eliminate many delays customers see.
FRIDAY FACTS is made possible by the generosity of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation’s donors. If you enjoy the FRIDAY FACTS, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to help advance our important mission by clicking here. Please share this email with a friend here and visit our website at georgiapolicy.org.