July 26, 2013
Quotes of Note
“It is difficult for men in high office to avoid the malady of self-delusion. They are always surrounded by worshipers. They are constantly, and for the most part sincerely, assured of their greatness. They live in an artificial atmosphere of adulation and exaltation which sooner or later impairs their judgment. They are in grave danger of becoming careless and arrogant.” – Calvin Coolidge
“What brought the inmates to prison was crime. The question is what brought them to crime. Teachers are not to pry into inmates’ lives, but voluntary testimony after testimony at break time indicated that absent fathers were the chief cause of unchecked, youthful waywardness. Need of “feeling like a man” was often the impetus for the first break-in, the first drug deal gone bad, or the first gang-related activity. Analyze and research all we wish, the preponderance of testimony I gleaned can be reduced to two words: no dads.” – Roger Hines
“Any ‘job creation’ bill must start from the basic understanding that legislation creates jobs the way roads create cars. The bill’s proper role is to make the environment more suitable to job creation. The road exists to speed vehicular commerce along more smoothly and easily.” – Jon Sanders
August 28: Register now for “Georgia Transportation: The Next Frontier,” a noon Policy Briefing Luncheon at the Georgian Club with Senior Fellow Baruch Feigenbaum, who is a Reason Foundation transportation analyst. $30. Information: http://tinyurl.com/msf7j3z. Registration: http://tinyurl.com/ln9lmhv.
Mark your calendar: The fourth annual Georgia Legislative Policy Forum takes place Friday, October 11, at the Renaissance Waverly Atlanta. Last year, hundreds of Georgia’s legislators, businesspeople and interested citizens attended to hear national policy experts discuss free-market solutions to Georgia’s challenges. Details soon.
At a Metro Atlanta Chamber transportation forum that brought agency leaders together this week:
- State Transportation Planning Director Toby Carr stressed the importance of information technology, in the form of Intelligent Transportation Systems, and managed (toll) lanes for Georgia congestion relief amid limited funding.
- The state toll authority chief, Chris Tomlinson, announced that the Georgia 400 tolls are set to end just before Thanksgiving. Appropriate, because the road’s traffic will be a turkey once the toll is gone. He also announced that the state will embrace e-tolling on new roads, with commuters also able to conveniently use drugstores and groceries stores to buy and recharge a Peach Pass account; the state is also working on interoperability so that the Peach Pass can be used in other states.
- Jannine Miller, head of the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority, announced that passenger fares cover one third of GRTA’s operating costs. MARTA’s farebox recovery ratio, meanwhile, is less than 30 percent, which it says “compares well against other agencies.”
- MARTA chief Keith Parker announced that the transit authority is working on making the ride more pleasant. MARTA is implementing a “knucklehead” prevention program; its “See and Say” app enables passengers to report misbehavior. The chief of the nation’s ninth-largest transit system also said MARTA plans to roll out an app to give passengers access to real-time information on vehicles’ schedules. Not a moment too soon; Cobb County Transit already has its GoCCT app in place.
Certainty is security: Studies suggest that reducing both actual wait times and the uncertainty of waiting may substantially lower the perceived burdens of using transit, researchers note in the University of California Transportation Center’s magazine, Access. “Successful efforts to reduce perceived walk, wait and transfer penalties can have a greater effect on travel behavior than even doubling vehicle speeds with a new rail or busway line, and can be done at a fraction of the cost.”
Bang for bucks? State records show Atlanta Public Schools spends more on administrator salaries than most other districts in the region, despite dropping enrollment, a low graduation rate and low test scores. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the system spent about $831 per student in 2012 on administrator salaries, not including principals and assistant principals. That is more than double the average of what nine other metro Atlanta districts spent on administrative salaries.
Top heavy: The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice released a report earlier this year that found the number of teachers in Georgia grew about twice as fast as the number of students over the past two decades. But so did the number of non-instructional staff (e.g., administrators and secretaries).
Sales tax holidays: On August 9-10, Georgia has its back-to-school sales tax holiday. But a new Tax Foundation report finds that, “Temporary rollbacks of sales taxes, despite being sold as a boon for consumers and businesses, actually impose significant costs on both groups without yielding significant benefits.” According to the Tax Foundation’s Joseph Henchman, “Political gimmicks like sales tax holidays distract policymakers and taxpayers from genuine, permanent tax relief.”
By the numbers: 28 – the number of states that will have income tax rates lower than Georgia’s after North Carolina’s Gov. Pat McCrory signed major tax reform into law this week. View video coverage of our recent legislative testimony, a pro-growth rationale for reducing the state’s 6 percent personal income tax rate.
Media and social media
Foundation in the News: An Atlanta Business Chronicle report on the I-75/575 Northwest Corridor reversible toll lanes project quoted Benita Dodd on the public-private partnership. “‘This is incredibly important for our credibility as a state,’ said Benita Dodd. … ‘We have used a bait-and-switch so many times with [public-private partnerships]. We have to succeed in this to bring back investor interest.'”
YouTube: The latest videos posted on YoutTube are from our archives: Texas Public Policy Foundation Chairman Wendy Lee Gramm shares about her work for President Ronald Reagan, and her husband, former U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm discusses how to beware whenever someone says “I have an idea.” Subscribe to the Foundation’s YouTube channel to make the best use of our resources: http://tinyurl.com/agkm5h5.
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More than 1,000 Twitter followers get their Foundation news at twitter.com/gppf.
Scholarships: Ask your high school or college student to like the Foundation’s Student Outreach Scholarship page on Facebook at facebook.com/GeorgiaPolicySOSProgram.
The Forum: In Checking Up On Health, Benita Dodd writes about the winners and losers under ObamaCare, who’s jumping ship and why the new law won’t reduce emergency room visits. Find this and other recent posts in The Forum, the Foundation’s blog, at georgiapolicy.org/category/the-forum/.
Visit www.georgiapolicy.org to read our latest commentary, “ObamaCare Implementation: Stumbling Along,” by Ronald E. Bachman.
Have a great weekend.
Kelly McCutchen and Benita Dodd
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