Friday Facts: January 26, 2024

This week, we celebrate National School Choice Week. And there’s much to celebrate. In 2023, the school choice movement made more progress in expanding education options than ever before.

The Year of Education Freedom saw seven states pass new education choice policies and nine  expand existing choice policies. There are now nine states with universal education choice policies that offer education savings accounts or ESA-style options to every K-12 student in the state.

In 2024, that momentum is likely to continue as several states, including Georgia, gear up to pass new or expanded education choice policies. After several failed attempts to pass a robust ESA policy, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp is growing impatient.

“Over the last few years, there has been a great deal of debate around different proposals to expand options for students and families when it comes to finding the education that best fits their individual needs,” Kemp, a Republican, observed in his recent State of the State address. “At the end of the day, our first and foremost consideration should be the future of that student. Our job is not to decide for each family, but to support them in making the best choice for their child.”

Kemp urged the Georgia General Assembly to pass an education choice policy this session, adding: “I believe we have run out of ‘next years.’”

Check out this week’s commentary from the Heritage Foundation’s Jason Bedrick on the states most likely to advance school choice initiatives this year. We also have the latest news and analysis from the last week, including:

  • In Davos, Kemp calls out the need for more clean energy production
  • State House rolls out a tax cut package that would increase child-tax credit and homestead exemption
  • Continued inflation remains a top concern for both Democrats and Republicans
  • School choice is more common than ever

Have a great weekend,

– Kyle Wingfield

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Friday’s Freshest

Kemp proclaims School Choice Week in Georgia

To expand educational options and empower students in Georgia, Gov. Brian Kemp issued a proclamation recognizing this week, January 21-27, as School Choice Week in Georgia. This announcement aligns with the broader “National School Choice Week,” an annual event directed by an organization of the same name, promoting educational options available for students and parents. 

The state of school choice in Georgia

Georgia was once a leader in school choice policy, but the state recently took a backseat as other states made significant strides. While Georgia has a tax-credit scholarship program and a large network of charter schools, more robust options have stalled to this point.

Will the Georgia legislature cap property tax increases?

Perhaps no public policy debate raises the ire of Georgians quite like property taxes. State legislators often say it is the issue they most frequently hear about from the folks back home, especially in recent years as the housing market boomed. Well, this might finally be the year the Georgia legislature provides some much-needed property tax relief: A Senate committee recently held its first hearing on a bill that would cap the assessed value on a homeowner’s primary residence at no more than a 3% per year increase. 

School boards, law enforcement and Georgia Public Broadcasting all lost money

The Brooks County Board of Education wasted nearly $160,000 of CARES Act funding on non-allowable expenditures, according to a new audit that the Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts published in December. This story is part of our monthly compilation of alleged or documented stories about waste, fraud or abuse of taxpayer money or taxpayer-funded resources throughout Georgia.

Georgia continues to show D.C. how government should be run

While the federal government continues to rack up trillion-dollar deficits, Georgia has built a nearly $11 billion surplus. 

At the Capitol: Week of January 22 

Lawmakers convened for Days 6-10 of the 2024 legislative session this week as we continue to see new bills introduced and moved through the process. Here are some updates from the past week:

  • House leadership rolled out a series of tax cut proposals this week, which would, among other things, increase Georgia’s child-tax credit from $3,000 to $4,000 and double the state’s homestead tax exemption from $2,000 to $4,000.
  • The Senate approved legislation defining antisemitism and incorporating it into Georgia’s hate crimes law. House Bill 30, authored by Rep. John Carson, R-Marietta, passed the Georgia House of Representatives last year but died in the Senate before being revived this year.
  • Sen. Mike Hodges, R-Brunswick, introduced legislation that would require secret ballot elections for union representation at companies receiving economic development incentives in Georgia.
  • Findings from the House Working Group on Early Childhood Education, chaired by Rep. Jan Jones, R-Milton, were presented to the House Education Committee this week. Recommendations totaled $100 million to reduce class size, increase salaries for teachers and assistants and increased funds for classroom startup costs. 
  • Legislation known as the “Boundless Opportunities for Georgia Students Act” would permit student transfers between local school systems without contracts between the local school system where the student resides and the local school system where the student seeks to enroll. Senate Bill 147 is authored by Sen. Shawn Still, R-Norcross.
  • Sen. Larry Walker, R-Perry, introduced legislation to exempt the professions of shampooing and blow-dry styling for licensure requirements. 
  • Reps. Matt Reeves, R-Duluth, and Mesha Mainor, R-Atlanta, introduced House Bill 926, the Second Chance Workforce Act. This legislation would allow individuals with low-level municipal citations and misdemeanor charges to keep their driver’s licenses during their cases, as long as the charges do not pertain to DUI, reckless driving or child support, so that their ability to drive to work is not interrupted. 
  • A bill called the “Georgia Development Impact Fee Act” would add the construction of schools to the list of infrastructure projects that can be funded by local impact fees. Currently, these fees fund items like parks, transportation improvements and sewers. Senate Bill 208, authored by Sen. Greg Dolezal, R-Cumming, has cleared the Senate Education committee.

The Latest


Kemp says more clean energy will be needed to fuel electric vehicle manufacturing

Georgia needs to increase its supply of electricity produced without burning fossil fuels in order to meet industries’ demand for clean energy, Gov. Brian Kemp told world business leaders. Speaking as part of a panel at the World Economic Forum in Davos, the governor highlighted the construction of Georgia Power’s two new nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle, the country’s first new reactors in decades.

What recession? Growth ended up accelerating in 2023

The U.S. economy grew 3.1% over the last year, defying projections of a recession as a resilient labor market supported strong consumer spending. The year was capped by a fourth quarter in which the economy grew at a 3.3% seasonally and inflation-adjusted annualized pace, as household outlays and government spending rose. 

Hartsfield-Jackson airport sets post-pandemic passenger high in 2023

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport set a new post-pandemic high with 104.7 million passengers in 2023, according to the airport. Passenger numbers increased by 10.9 million over 2022. The airport’s highest passenger volume occurred in 2019, with over 110 million passengers traveling through the airport. 


School choice is popular and increasingly common

One of the best things about National School Choice Week is watching people take advantage of the growing range of options that allow them to opt out of public schools, often while taking per-student funding with them to pay for preferred alternatives. From panicked supporters of government schools to relieved parents and joyful choice advocates, the shift in education is showing up across American society.

Next wave of microschool founders are more diverse, less likely to be educators

The face of microschooling is changing — from the racial diversity and professional background of its founders to how these small, nontraditional learning centers finance their operations. Those are among the top findings of an analysis across 34 states of 100 current microschools and 100 more that were largely aiming to open this school year.

What’s the state of charter schools today?

Today, there are more than 8,000 charter schools throughout the country. It is the only segment of the public school system that is growing. Charters secured multiple legislative victories at the state level in 2023 and CREDO’s most recent research shows the clear impact on student achievement up until the pandemic. But what is the current state of charter schools, and what is their future?


Developer looking to bring 800 homes to Pembroke

February 12 could be a historic day in Pembroke. A city council meeting will be held that day to approve or deny the rezoning and annexation of about 200 acres of land for a proposed 795-home development. The developer, Fetzer Lakes LLC out of Guyton, would build the community near Wildwood Church Road, just minutes away from the Bulloch County line.

Macon and other middle Georgia cities rank most affordable

Macon was ranked the most affordable place to buy a house in the U.S. in a study published by Hundreds of cities were evaluated to find average mortgage payments, property taxes, transportation expenses and home insurance costs. Other Georgia cities listed include Albany, Augusta, Columbus and Warner Robins.

For property investors, the price of homes is still not right

Investor purchases of single-family homes tumbled by 29% last year as higher interest rates and record home prices compelled even deep-pocketed investment firms to pull back. Businesses large and small acquired some 570,000 homes in 2023, down from 802,000 in 2022.   


Georgia has a ‘generational opportunity’ to invest in transportation

Georgia has a “generational opportunity” to further invest in transportation projects statewide, the chair of the Senate Transportation Committee said on Monday. State transportation officials have estimated needing to spend $90 billion over 25 years to improve traffic flow on the state’s roads, particularly along key freight corridors.

Federal Grant Possible for Rome-Cartersville Development Corridor Construction

The Floyd County Commission is poised to seek federal funding to spur construction of the Rome-Cartersville Development Corridor, formerly known as the U.S. 411 Connector. On the books for decades, the planned Rome-Cartersville Development Corridor would provide a direct link between Rome and I-75 while rerouting heavy traffic from Cartersville’s congested surface streets. 

Gwinnett transit SPLOST remains uncertain but local leaders say expansion is needed

Some local Gwinnett leaders are reacting positively to the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners vote last week to inform the Atlanta Transit Link Authority that they intend to vote in late May on whether to put a transit sales tax referendum on the November general election ballot.


World Economic Forum targets coffee

A video featuring elites at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos discussing how coffee production contributes to climate change infuriated social media users. In the clip, Swiss banker Hubert Keller noted just how many “tonnes” (metric unit equivalent to 2,204 lbs) of CO2 coffee makers put into the atmosphere globally when producing their product.

Continued inflation tops list of worries for Democrats, Republicans

A new poll shows that Democrats and Republicans are concerned more about inflation than other potential crises. The Center Square Voters’ Voice Poll conducted in conjunction with Noble Predictive Insights found that Republicans (45%) were more concerned about inflation than Democrats (32%), even though it was listed as the top concern by both.

Doom globally, act locally

Last week, the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, which advocates conservative causes here in the Peach State, hosted one of National Review’s best reporters, Jim Geraghty, at the Park 82 restaurant in Atlanta. Geraghty hit on three topics for his audience of conservative business folks from the ATL: The election, and conflicts in the Ukraine and China/Taiwan.

Quotes of the Week

“Until you do what you believe in, you don’t know whether you believe it or not.” – Leo Tolstoy

“On matters of style, swim with the current, on matters of principle, stand like a rock.” – Thomas Jefferson

“The limits of the possible can only be defined by going beyond them into the impossible.” – Arthur C. Clarke

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