**Late-breaking Friday Fact!!! March 23: Mark your calendar! The Foundation’s March Leadership Breakfast will be keynoted by former U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia, who served six terms in Congress before announcing his retirement in 2016. Details to follow.
March 23-24: The Heartland Institute hosts the 12th International Conference on Climate Change at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Washington, D.C. The theme of the two-day conference is “Resetting U.S. Climate Policy.”
Quotes of note
“Costs can be concealed but not eliminated. If people ignore costs and look only to benefits, they will do darn near anything, because everything has a benefit.” – Walter Williams
“A trillion dollars of private capital investment would likely yield a large array of economically sound infrastructure improvements. A trillion dollars of net new federal spending risks funding numerous value-subtracting enterprises.” – Robert Poole
“America’s preference for government-owned and operated infrastructure is in fact rather exceptional, driven more by ideology (and special interests like unions and consultants) than rigorous policy analysis. An asset like LaGuardia Airport, which is run by the notoriously corrupt and inefficient Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, will almost certainly be more efficiently rebuilt by a private company that can’t afford to take a loss.” – Harry Zieve Cohen
Funding formula: QBE reform appears unlikely this year. Georgia State Rep. Buzz Brockway has introduced a bill that incorporates the charter school reforms recommended by the Governor’s Education Reform Commission, including a facilities grant program for charter schools.
Tax credits: Georgia’s tax-credit scholarship program begun in 2009 may be large as measured by the number of participants, but in dollar terms it plays a comparably small part in Georgia’s fiscal environment, the Institute for Justice reports. In any given year, scholarship tax credit has never exceeded four-tenths of 1 percent of total tax liability. “Indeed, over the same time period, Georgia ‘lost’ three times more through tax credits to subsidize filmmaking than through tax credits to educate children.”
Helping Atlanta students: The Walton Family Foundation is investing $2.1 million to support and evaluate the success of Atlanta Public Schools’ Turnaround Strategy. The grants will also help the district launch APS Insights, a first-of-its-kind data dashboard available this summer to share information about school options and quality with parents.
Taxes and spending
Taxes: Sen. David Perdue of Georgia is using his business experience to question the border-adjustment tax while championing lower corporate tax rates. “This border-adjustment tax would actually would pick winners and losers in our manufacturing base here in the United States at exactly the time we don’t need to be doing this,” he wrote in the Washington Times. In an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, another Georgia native, Phil Gramm, wrote, “This policy is protectionism pure and simple, and the WTO would surely say so, opening America up to retaliation and possibly triggering a trade war.”
Tax Reform: A bill to lower Georgia’s individual income tax from 6 percent to 5.4 percent passed out of the House Ways and Means Tax Reform Subcommittee and the full Ways and Means Committee. See our testimony here.
Education: A bill increasing the cap on Tuition Tax Credit Scholarships passed out of the House Ways and Means Tax Reform Subcommittee and the full Ways and Means Committee and a bill creating universal Education Savings Accounts is expected to be heard today in the Senate Education committee. See our testimony here.
The issues: Legislators have copies of the Foundation’s Guide to the Issues, focusing on education, transportation, health care, taxes, criminal justice and more. Click here to read the Foundation’s proposals online. Questions? Email .
Popularity toll: After its first year of operations, the 17 miles of express toll lanes on I-405 in metro Seattle are saving users time compared with the general-purpose lanes. Even the general-purpose lane users are saving time, despite an overall increase in vehicle miles of travel (VMT). The only serious issue in the corridor is a bottleneck where two toll lanes funnel into one. Source: Seattle Times
Criminal justice reform
Prison detours: Almost 90 percent of all prisoners are incarcerated by the states, which is where reformers have focused their efforts. The results have been “commendable but slight,” according to John Pfaff of Fordham Law School. “After rising by more than 425 percent between 1978 and 2009, the prison population in the U.S. fell by about 5 percent between 2010 and 2015.” He notes that more than half all inmates in state prisons have been convicted of violent crimes. Calling prison “likely one of the least efficient approaches,” Pfaff proposes deterrents instead, including diverting gang members, hot-spot policing and a conflict-resolution approach called “Cure Violence.” Source: Wall Street Journal
This month in the archives: In February 10 years ago, the Foundation published, “Advancing Student Achievement in Georgia.” It noted, “The charter system allows the truest form of local control of public education. By giving teachers and local education officials – who know their community and students best – maximum flexibility to tailor education programs around students, some really special things will happen.”
YouTube: Foundation events are videotaped for viewing through YouTube. Watch the February 22 event with Dick Carpenter on “Bottleneckers” here. View the January event, “Balancing the Books,” with Dr. Ben. Scafidi, here. View the December event on education funding reform with Mike Dudgeon and Erin Hames here.
Foundation in the news: Watchdog.org quoted Kelly McCutchen in an article on Georgia rural broadband legislation. The Columbia County News Times published Benita Dodd’s commentary, “Bottleneckers: A Chokehold on Good Government,” which was also cited by the Heartland Institute.
Visit www.georgiapolicy.org to read our latest commentary, “Global Warming: Playing Fast and Loose in Policy, Proof and Politics,” by Harold Brown.
Have a great weekend!
Kelly McCutchen and Benita Dodd
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