Friday Facts: February 16, 2024

It is an election year, and Congress will soon consider two bipartisan bills to address high rental costs. The first is the Workforce Housing Tax Credit (WFHTC) and the second would be an expansion of the existing Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC). The WFHTC would extend eligibility for tenants earning below the area median. 

Combined, the two credits would expand eligibility to about three-quarters of the nation’s renters. Both programs would offer generous federal government subsidies for building new apartments. Such a massive expansion of the state would waste taxpayer money, crowd out more private builders, and deter many families from advancing economically. Worst of all, it would do precious little to address the nation’s housing supply problem.

To be fair, the housing shortage that policymakers are looking to solve is real. However, doubling down with more government subsidies for new apartments isn’t the answer. The root cause is government regulatory failure – and no amount of money can fix that.

Check out this week’s commentary from American Enterprise Institute’s Edward J. Pinto, Tobias Peter and Kevin Corinth on how we can increase housing affordability, not with taxpayer subsidies, but by removing regulations that limit what types of houses can be built and where. We also have the latest news and analysis from the last week, including:

  • Atlanta metro area projected to add 1.8 million people by 2050
  • State sets exports record for third straight year
  • Tiny home community planned for Gwinnett County
  • Board of Regents approves standalone medical school for UGA

Have a great weekend,

– Kyle Wingfield

Friday’s Freshest

2024 legislative session hits midpoint this week

Georgia’s 2024 legislative session hits its midpoint this week. As usual, the second half will be far more active and intense than the first. But let’s pause to consider how this session has already defied expectations on issues ranging from tort reform to Medicaid expansion to workforce development.

Gov. Kemp and Georgia legislators are protecting workers’ right to privacy in union elections 

In Georgia and as Americans, we believe that everyone has the right to work free from intimidation and that decisions about who we choose to represent us – whether public officials or within the workplace – deserve to be made privately, and without others knowing our selection. It’s about the sanctity of the ballot box and the right to privacy. 

Cobb County transit plan has a lot to like but also potential problems

Rather than stage another MARTA referendum, be part of a regional transit plan, or introduce rail to the county, Cobb County leaders are trying a lower-cost approach. Commissioners recently approved a 30-year, $11 billion, bus-based plan that adds 108 miles of fixed-route service. Here’s an analysis of the plan.

Fulton County Commissioner looks for love in all the wrong places (and three other examples of government waste, fraud and abuse)

Fulton County taxpayers will pay nearly $1 million to pay off a sexual harassment judgment against County Commissioner Natalie Hall. This is according to the Atlanta-based WSB-TV, which alleged in January that Hall fired her former chief of staff “for refusing to have an exclusive, romantic relationship with her.”

Prudent tax reforms are more than welcome

Despite a rise in assessed home values, people who have stayed in the same home during the past few years haven’t seen any increase in their bank accounts. Only home sellers cashed in on the rising prices. Yet, these homeowners still had to pay increased property taxes. That’s one of the most pernicious things about how property taxes are levied in Georgia: Homeowners pay for the economic decisions made by other people.

At the Capitol: Week of February 12

The Georgia legislature passed the halfway point of the 2024 session this week as lawmakers continue their work before Crossover Day. Here are your updates from the past week:

  • Rep. Butch Parrish, R-Swainsboro, was named the new chairman of the House Rules committee by Speaker Jon Burns on Thursday. The chair’s vacancy came after the passing of Rep. Richard Smith two weeks ago.
  • The House voted on Monday to expand the number of Georgia elections and primaries subject to what the legislature calls “risk-limiting audits.” HB 977 aims to improve transparency and accuracy in elections, according to its sponsor, Rep. John LaHood, R-Valdosta.
  • A bill exempting firearm safes and safety devices from sales taxes passed the Senate on Monday. SB 340 was sponsored by Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick, R-Marietta.
  • On Tuesday, the Senate Education and Youth Committee discussed several bills including:
  • SB 440, authored by Senator Matt Brass, R-Newnan, which amends Georgia’s dual enrollment programs by consolidating high-demand careers with relevant and aligned courses. The measure cleared the committee. 
  • SB 147, authored by Senator Shawn Still, R-Norcross, which seeks to create the “Boundless Opportunities For Georgia Students Act.” This would allow public school students to take virtual courses in a different school system. No action was taken on this measure.
  • On the healthcare front, the House passed a bill that would prohibit certain healthcare providers from discriminating against potential organ transplant recipients due to their vaccine status. HB 576 was sponsored by Rep. Joseph Gullet, R-Dallas, and passed the House 98-71.
  • A bill providing an effective 3% annual cap on property tax assessments passed the Senate on Thursday, SB 349 is sponsored by Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, R-Rome.
  • Also on Thursday, the House passed SB 362 out of committee, legislation that would require companies that receive taxpayer incentives to hold secret ballot elections for union representation. The Georgia Public Policy Foundation’s government affairs manager, Kennedy Atkins, testified in support of the bill. SB 362 is sponsored by Sen. Mike Hodges, R-Brunswick.

The Latest


Metro Atlanta projected to add 1.8 million people by 2050

The 21-county metro region is now projected to reach 7.9 million people by 2050; which would make it the sixth-largest metropolitan area in the U.S. The counties expected to see the most growth by 2050 are Forsyth with an increase of 79%, Barrow at 71% and Paulding with a growth of 60%.

Gasoline taxes propping up otherwise sluggish state tax revenues

Georgia tax collections rose last month compared to January of last year, the state Department of Revenue reported this week. But that 2.1% increase only occurred because the state sales tax on gasoline was in effect last month but was not being collected during the same month a year ago. Both individual and corporate income taxes fell in January.

State sets exports record for third straight year

Georgia exports hit an all-time high last year for the third year in a row, the state Department of Economic Development reported this week. The state exported $49.7 billion in goods in 2023, eclipsing the previous record of $47 billion set the year before.

Second new Georgia reactor begins splitting atoms in key step to making electricity

A nuclear power plant in Georgia has begun splitting atoms in the second of its two new reactors, Georgia Power said this week, a key step toward providing carbon-free electricity. The unit of Atlanta-based Southern Co. said operators reached self-sustaining nuclear fission inside the reactor at Plant Vogtle, southeast of Augusta. 

Government accountability 

Georgia lawmakers propose modest changes to state film tax credits

Georgia’s entertainment tax credits have been in place since 2005. A film or TV project can qualify for a 20 percent tax credit, plus an additional 10% if the final product includes a “Made in Georgia” logo. A production company must spend at least $500,000 in the state to qualify. Legislative leaders recently announced plans to raise the minimum required investment from $500,000 to $1 million, as well as requiring more effort to qualify for the extra 10%.

Georgia rethinks easy bail

Georgia is the latest to reverse a soft-on-crime policy by restoring cash bail for dozens of crimes, after dropping the requirement helped stoke a crime wave. The Georgia General Assembly passed a bill this month to mandate cash bail for 30 crimes, including certain types of domestic violence, rioting and drug dealing.

Fed rate cuts ‘off the menu for now’ after hot January inflation report

Inflation ran hotter than expected at the start of the year, pouring cold water on Wall Street’s hopes for an imminent interest-rate cut by the Federal Reserve. The consumer price index, a broad measure of the price of everyday goods including gasoline, groceries and rent, rose across the board in January, rattling investors and triggering a broad market sell-off. 

Caught in Biden’s natural gas export fight: Your utility bill

Americans’ utility bills are getting wrapped up in the fight over President Biden’s pause on most new natural gas exports.The White House last month effectively froze new approvals for liquefied natural gas shipments, a booming industry that has helped turn the U.S. into an energy export powerhouse. 


Housing nonprofit planning tiny home community in Gwinnett County

Affordable housing advocates are working together to develop a community of tiny homes in Gwinnett County. These will be cottage-style homes of up to 750 square feet. The Foundation has previously written how tiny homes could be a good option for many, but some places like Calhoun have prohibited the smaller houses.

Residents in Pembroke celebrate application withdrawal for large housing development

Residents in Pembroke were shocked when they learned a developer withdrew an application for a proposed 800-home development near Wildwood Church Road. Mayor Tiffany Zeigler said the developer did not specify why the application was withdrawn. City Manager Chris Benson thinks the developer will have to wait six months before reapplying.

Cash-flush buyers dip into distressed commercial real estate

Turmoil in commercial real estate is sending jitters through regional banks and other lenders. But one group is pleased with the turbulence: investors sitting on piles of cash they raised to scoop up distressed properties. Many of these investors have been stockpiling funds since early in the pandemic. 


Riders have fled Cobb’s buses. Will a transit tax bring them back?

CobbLinc buses are not “empty,” as is sometimes said. The system recorded nearly a million trips in 2022. But the same data shows that, over the past decade, ridership dwindled every year, before taking a nosedive at the onset of the pandemic. From 2013 to 2022, CobbLinc has recorded a 73% drop in annual unlinked passenger trips, a commonly used ridership metric.

ARC Board approves major update to Metropolitan Transportation Plan

The Atlanta Regional Commission Board approved a major update to the Atlanta Metropolitan Transportation Plan, which allocates $168 billion in federal, state, and local funding through 2050 to improve transportation and safety across the 20-county region.

Plans unveiled in Georgia for ‘America’s longest paved trail’

Advocates for a bike and pedestrian trail linking Athens and Savannah have unveiled detailed plans for the project. Trail backers say the 211-mile trail would be the longest paved trail in America. It’s called the Hi-Lo Trail, since it would include a variety of terrains from Georgia’s hilly piedmont region to the flat coast.


First ever Wawa in Georgia could be coming to Pooler

A popular East Coast gas station and convenience store has officially taken one step closer to our area. At the city of Pooler’s planning and zoning meeting on Monday afternoon, Wawa was approved and now just needs the council’s go ahead to begin construction. It started as a food market in Pennsylvania. Now, Wawa has more than 1,000 stores nationwide, but zero in Georgia.

Georgia Board of Regents approves standalone medical school for UGA

A new medical school in Georgia is a step closer to becoming a reality. A proposal to create a new standalone medical school in Athens at the University of Georgia cleared a key hurdle when the Georgia Board of Regents voted to approve the plan.

Jeff Bezos’ move to Florida saving him hundreds of millions in taxes

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ recent move from Seattle to Miami is saving him big bucks in taxes. Neither Washington nor Florida has state income taxes, but the billionaire businessman will be able to save hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes just from his recently announced sales of Amazon stock over the next year, because he will not be beholden to Washington’s 7% tax on capital gains in excess of $250,000.

Quotes of the Week

“…arbitrary power is most easily established on the ruins of liberty abused to licentiousness.” – George Washington

“The philosophy of the school room in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next.” – Abraham Lincoln

“Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.” – Abraham Lincoln 

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