January 28: The Georgia Public Policy Foundation’s 29th Anniversary Celebration and Freedom Award Dinner is almost here! The deadline to purchase tickets is Wednesday, January 22. Join the celebration in the Egyptian Ballroom at the fabulous Fox Theatre on Tuesday, January 28. The keynote speaker is John A. Allison, retired CEO of BB&T and the Cato Institute. The Foundation’s prestigious Freedom Award will be presented to Sunny K. Park, philanthropist, businessman, motivational speaker and a great Georgian. Find more information here; contact for sponsorship information.
Quotes of Note
“Let’s face it: 2019 is going to be a hard year to beat – stocks and 401(k) plans up more than 25% on average, wage gains of 3% to 5%, 7 million surplus jobs and the lowest unemployment and inflation rates in nearly 50 years. That’s a lot to celebrate. Booms like this don’t happen by accident. The imperative is for Republicans to connect the dots between this banner year for the middle class and tax cuts, deregulation policies and pro-America energy production initiatives.” – Stephen Moore
“How about resolving to make this election year different? Reject cynicism and rage. Renew and rebuild what’s been best about us. To do right in every scenario before us – as a matter of civics and daily life.” – Kathryn Jean Lopez
“Democrats on the campaign trail say the middle class is vanishing, but the opposite is true as more Americans escape poverty and others join the ranks of the affluent. Between 2016 and 2018 the number of taxpayers earning less than $25,000 declined 5% while increasing 8% for those making between $100,000 to $200,000 and 13.9% for those making more than $200,000, according to IRS data.” – Wall Street Journal
Energy and environment
Streamlining: The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulations were promulgated in 1978. The most visible requirements are the costly, time-consuming Environmental Assessments and Environmental Impact Statements required of all federal agencies, which take, on average, 4.5 years to complete. The Council on Environmental Quality is proposing the first update of these regulations “to facilitate more efficient, effective, and timely NEPA reviews by Federal agencies in connection with proposals for agency action.” Source: News reports
Barreling ahead: The Energy Information Administration expects U.S. oil production to increase by 1.06 million barrels per day (bpd) this year – more than previously forecast – to an all-time high of 13.3 million bpd. A shale boom has helped make the United States the world’s biggest oil producer, overtaking Saudi Arabia and Russia. Source: Reuters
Land purchase: Now that a court has rejected Florida’s effort to block a drilling project in the Everglades, the state has agreed to buy the land. Florida will pay between $16.5 million and $18 million to Kanter Real Estate to acquire 20,000 acres of wetlands in Broward County. An appeals court last year overturned the state Environmental Protection Department’s rejection of Kanter’s application for an exploratory drilling permit. Source: WLRN.org
Quality curriculum? A recent study from the RAND Corporation found that nearly every U.S. teacher – 99% of elementary teachers and 96% in secondary school – draws upon “materials I developed and/or selected myself” in teaching English language arts. Among elementary teachers, 94% reported using Google to find lessons; 87% search Pinterest. The numbers are virtually the same for math. Source: Fordham Institute
Construction grants: Home Depot founders Bernie Marcus and Arthur M. Blank announced this week that the Home Depot Foundation, the Marcus Foundation and the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation have pledged a $5.7 million grant for the Construction Education Foundation of Georgia, aimed at creating a model that addresses the nation’s need for skilled workers in the construction trades. View Marcus’ speech at the 2011 Georgia Legislative Policy Forum here. Source: Atlanta Business Chronicle
Choice: National School Choice Week 2020 is celebrated from January 26 to February 1. Georgia will celebrate with a record-breaking 1,950 events and activities across the state. Gov. Brian Kemp issued an official proclamation recognizing Georgia School Choice Week 2020.
They’re back: The 40-day session of the second half of Georgia’s biennial Legislature began Monday. Follow the session online at http://www.legis.ga.gov/.
Technology capital: Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan announced the formation of the Georgia Innovates Taskforce, comprising more than a dozen leaders who will help accelerate his vision of making Georgia the technology capital of the East Coast. “I want Georgia to be a national leader in technology research, development and implementation and allow for growth and evolution across all parts of Georgia,” Duncan said. Source: Metro Atlanta CEO
Business: A record 165,000 new businesses were created in Georgia in 2019, more than any time in state history, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced at the Georgia Chamber’s annual Eggs and Issues Breakfast this week. That was a 14% increase over 2018. Source: Atlanta Business Chronicle
Going up: Legislative leaders have agreed on legislation aimed at requiring “marketplace facilitators” whose websites or apps are used to sell goods or services provided by someone else to collect and remit sales taxes. It would go into effect April 1 and require ride-sharing networks like Uber and Lyft, short-term housing rental sites like Airbnb and auction sites like eBay to collect sales taxes on their sales and services. Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution
More than a MinuteClinic: CVS debuted HealthHUB, its expanded healthcare center, in Marietta this week. The new store design will offer a broader range of services than CVS MinuteClinics, to help patients better manage chronic conditions and provide “coordinated, personalized care in a familiar, neighborhood location,” Metro Atlanta CEO reports. CVS piloted HealthHub in Houston, Texas, last year and plans to open 16 locations in metro Atlanta. Walmart opened its first standalone clinic in the nation September in Dallas, Ga., and its second recently in Calhoun.
Apps over ambulance: Far more patients are opting for an Uber than an ambulance ride during a non-life-threatening medical emergency, according to researchers at the University of Kansas. An analysis involving 750 cities in the 43 states in which Uber operated between 2013 and 2015 found ambulance utilization declined an average of 7% after Uber’s arrival. A 2016 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that Lyft partnerships reduce patient per-ride costs by 30 percent. Source: PatientEngagementHIT
We’re hiring! The Foundation is in search of a Policy and Research Director to work with the President and Vice President to set policy positions and priorities among our issues, which include education, healthcare, transportation, tax and spending, regulation, housing affordability, criminal justice reform, and energy and the environment. Find out more at talentmarket.org/policy-gppf/.
This month in the archives: In January 10 years ago, the Foundation published, “Smokes and Mirrors in Resolving Budget Gaps.” It noted, “Georgia leaders face some difficult budget decisions, but they should avoid the quick, nicotine-like fix of tax hikes. If additional revenue must be part of closing the budget gap, the first source should be the repeal of special-interest tax exemptions.’”
Visit www.georgiapolicy.org to read the Foundation’s latest commentary, “Don’t Stand in the Way of Georgia Families’ Education Options,” by Benita M. Dodd.
Have a great weekend!
Kyle Wingfield and Benita Dodd
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.