Friday Facts: January 13th, 2012

It’s Friday!

– Register now to celebrate National School Choice Week with, “Breaking Down Barriers to High Quality Education in Georgia” the Foundation’s Leadership Breakfast at 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday, January 25, at Cobb County’s Georgian Club. The panel discussion features Lisa Kelly, president of the Georgia GOAL Scholarship Program; Dean Alford, president and chief executive officer of Allied Energy Services, and Lisa Gillis, president of Integrated Educational Strategies. The event will cost $25 to attend. Register by Monday, January 23, at

Quotes of note
– “The public welfare demands that constitutional cases must be decided according to the terms of the Constitution itself, and not according to judges’ views of fairness, reasonableness, or justice.” – U.S. Supreme Court Justice Hugo L. Black
– “It constantly amazes me that defenders of the free market are expected to offer certainty and perfection while government has only to make promises and express good intentions. Many times, for instance, I’ve heard people say, ‘A free market in education is a bad idea because some child somewhere might fall through the cracks,’ even though in today’s government schools, millions of children are falling through the cracks every day.” – Lawrence Reed

Foundation in the news
– Congratulations to T. Rogers Wade, the Foundation’s chairman of the Board of Trustees, for being named in the “100 Most Influential Georgians 2012” list in Georgia Trend magazine.
– In a Sunday opinion editorial in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution this week, I urged the Legislature toward innovation in 2012: “As Georgia emerges from the recession, we face a great opportunity to reshape state government for the future. Rather than blindly funding the same ineffective programs, we can rebuild smarter, more efficient programs.” Read more at

Kudos to Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal for his announcement this week in his State of the State address that he would ensure funding is available for charter schools whose future is threatened by a state Supreme Court ruling last year. Pending a permanent solution, these students should be reassured that they will still have access to their choice of education. The temporary reprieve also gives policy-makers and proponents of school choice an opportunity to craft a constitutional, pragmatic approach that doesn’t allow opponents to play politics with education policy.

– Imminent congestion relief: In his State of the State address this week, Gov. Nathan Deal announced that the Ga. 400 corridor would see additional capacity through “innovative traffic solutions.” Southbound lanes from McFarland Road to the Chattahoochee River will be modified to add a southbound through lane, while flex shoulders will be added between the Chattahoochee River and I-285.
– Traffic delays ahead: Governor Deal said in his State of the State address that he decided against a public-private partnership (PPP) in the I-75/575 corridor because, “I was, am, and will be opposed to contracting away Georgia’s sovereignty for a period of 60 to 70 years over a transportation corridor that is so vital to our future. … [T]here is a better way forward.” As the Foundation has pointed out time and again, funding for transportation (and other state) infrastructure is scarce and the private sector has a vital role to play. Private-sector investment expedites congestion relief; the private sector obviously wants a reasonable return on its investment. Contract lengths around the nation: The $3.8 billion Indiana Toll Road PPP: 75 years; the $1.8 billion Chicago Skyway PPP: 99 years; $1.8 billion Capital Beltway HOT Lanes PPP: 75 years.
– Rail’s travails: Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and Austin are all among the 20 fastest-growing major cities in the nation. But the three cities with various levels of rail transit – Dallas, Houston and Austin – all have declining transit ridership trends and have fewer absolute transit riders today than they had a dozen years ago, notes Tory Gattis in NewGeography. “They have spent billions to implement and promote transit with a heavy focus on rail transit. … Increasing the proportion of a region’s transit funds being spent on rail transit leads to less cost-effective overall transit and degraded transit for the majority of transit riders who still ride buses.” (Read Benita Dodd’s post in The Forum at on the changes forced upon bus riders as Atlanta builds its $72 million streetcar.)

Social media
– Editor Mike Klein wrote this week in The Forum, the Foundation’s blog, about the proposed $700 million bonds package in Governor Deal’s fiscal 2013 budget athttp:// He also reported that Georgia Public Broadcasting is the only state authority listed among 35 programs that will participate in zero-based budgeting reviews. Read these articles and more at
– Don’t miss the Foundation’s Tweets. More than 500 follow the daily Tweets at
– The Foundation’s Facebook page is just 10 shy of 1,500 “Likes.” “Like” us at to access daily Policy Points, Event Updates, Quotes of Note and alerts when the Foundation is in the news.


Health care
– Health without practitioners? 
A news article on CNN Money warns that a growing number of doctors in independent practices are barely able to pay their bills and many are thinking of leaving practice altogether.
– Care without cuts? The president repeatedly promised the American people he would cut a typical family’s premium $2,500 a year before the end of his first term, Grace-Marie Turner of the Galen Institute notes. “But costs are rising now even faster than before the law was enacted in March 2010. A Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that premiums for a family policy topped $15,000 a year in 2011, increasing an average of $1,300 in the last year – three times faster than the year before.” Source: Pittsburgh Tribune Review


Taxes and spending
– By the numbers: 34 percent. How much the income of the top-earning 1 percent fell between 2007 and 2009. 1 in 3. Portion of the richest 1 percent in 2007 who were no longer in the top 1 percent in 2009. Source: Wall Street Journal
– By the numbers II: When the top marginal income tax rate was 70 percent in 1980, the rich paid 20 percent of all federal income taxes. Yet now, when the top marginal rate is 35 percent, they pay twice that. Source: Tax Foundation
– Plan to Repeal Oklahoma’s Income Tax: A phaseout of Oklahoma’s personal income tax would produce the lowest tax burden of any state except Alaska, according to a study for the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs. The study’s authors recommend two phases. The first phase eliminates deductions and institutes one low flat rate of 3 percent in 2012, much like Georgia’s Tax Reform Council recommendations. In 2013, Oklahoma’s rate would be lowered to 2.25 percent, then gradually phased out over 2013-2022 in quarter-percent increments.
– What spending cuts? In its 2011 State Expenditure Report, the National Association of State Budget Officers estimates that the 50 states spent $1,687.6 billion in 2011. This is up from $1,621 billion in 2010. Source: Wyoming Liberty Group
– For the first time in history a U.S. state now gets at least half of its funding from the federal government, the Wyoming Liberty Group reports. South Carolina now receives more in federal funding than from state taxes. (Federal funds make up 36 percent of Georgia’s state spending.)
– Correction: The link in last week’s Friday Facts to the centralized Web site for local government budget reports was incorrect. To access the correct site, click on this link:


Visit to read the Foundation’s latest commentary, “Asset Forfeiture Reform Protects Georgians’ Property Rights,” by Benita M. Dodd.


Have a great weekend.

Kelly McCutchen

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