Friday Facts: July 28, 2023

The wheels may be in motion for a big change for Georgia taxpayers.

For decades, Georgia has paid for its roads, bridges and other transportation infrastructure with a fuel tax. The concept is simple: Drivers pay relative to the amount of gasoline they use. The evolution of the auto industry, along with some research-backed political momentum could change that soon.

The Georgia Department of Transportation plans to launch a pilot program later this year that will test mileage-based user fees: taxes that charge by miles driven instead of fuel used. The experiment seeks 150 volunteers to participate in a test of the new tax over a four-month period starting later this year.

Though gasoline taxes have been around in some form for over 100 years, mileage-based user fees have become more common in the past decade, with three states already adopting them. That’s because the threat to revenue is apparent: Drivers using less gasoline obviously means less money from a gasoline tax. Most proposals to replace the gas tax focus on this loss in revenue, but a 2021 study from the Georgia Public Policy Foundation points out other issues that switching to a mileage-based tax could address.

Please check out this week’s commentary that looks back at that study and Georgia’s plan to test mileage-based user fees.

Friday’s Freshest 🍑

Eminent domain case pits farmers vs. railroad in rural Georgia community

For roughly 100 years, the Smith family in Sparta have owned and farmed nearly 500 acres of land, which they say is now threatened by a powerful railroad firm. But in a rural county that is losing population and industry, many see this as an opportunity to bring jobs and money to the community. 

We must avoid the drift toward the European way

While many in America seemingly clamor for a European-style economy, we can look at the European economy of today and realize why that would cause disaster.

📺 WATCH: U.S. and European economies have diverged significantly

Popular short-term health plans should be preserved

Short-term plans are not subject to Obamacare rules and are thus much more affordable and flexible for families. However, they are threatened by proposed regulations from the Biden administration. 

What should lawmakers do with another budget surplus?

Georgia lawmakers could soon have an extra $10 billion on their hands. Naturally, many want to spend every dollar to grow the size of government. But what do current trends show and what path should lawmakers follow?

📺 WATCH: Not the time to expand state spending

In The News 🗞️

Georgia removes 95,000 as it determines Medicaid eligibility

“What we’re really talking about now is going back to the way Medicaid worked for the first five-plus decades of its existence, which is, you have to prove you’re eligible for the program, and then if you’re no longer eligible for the program, you don’t get it anymore,” Kyle Wingfield, president and CEO of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, told The Center Square.

Georgia Pathways enrollment unclear

“Pathways is going to allow tens of thousands of Georgians who would not otherwise have qualified for Medicaid to do that and to do that in a way that allows the state to experiment with ‘what would Medicaid look like’ if … we [made] some changes, not during a time of crisis, but because we were being intentional about it and we wanted to see if we can improve the program,” Wingfield said. 

The Latest 📻


Georgia Ports Authority adds market share as well as future capacity

The Georgia Port Authority reported final 2023 numbers this week, confirming the fiscal year that ended June 30 was its second busiest on record, only behind 2022. Yet even as the total number of shipping containers moved fell year over year, the GPA increased its U.S. market share to 11.2%, up from 10.4% in 2022 and 9.7% in 2020.

Georgia unemployment holds steady in June

Georgia’s unemployment rate was unchanged last month at 3.2%, while the number of jobs rose to an all-time high according to the state Department of Labor. Unemployment in the Peach State was four-tenths of a point lower than the national jobless rate of 3.6%. The number of jobs increased by 4,400 in June to a record 4.9 million.

UPS and Teamsters union reach agreement to avoid potential strike

UPS and the Teamsters announced that the two sides reached an agreement on a new contract that will avert the threat of a strike beginning in August. The current UPS Teamsters collective bargaining agreement is set to expire July 31. Union members were poised to begin a strike on August 1 if the two sides were unable to reach an agreement. 


New Executive Director of State Charter Schools Commission announced

Gov. Brian Kemp announced that the State Charter Schools Commission of Georgia has selected Donovan Head to serve as Executive Director of the Commission. Head currently serves as deputy director of the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement.

Department of Education to lower weight of Georgia Milestones tests

The state Board of Education voted to let local school systems reduce the weight of the Georgia Milestones End-of-Course tests from 20% of a student’s final grade to 10%. The Georgia Milestones tests assess whether students are meeting state standards in four core subject areas: English/language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies. 

Legislation introduced to regulate Name, Image and Likeness in college sports

U.S. Sens Tommy Tuberville, R-Alabama, and Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, have introduced legislation to regulate Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) rights for college athletes. The proposal would prohibit NIL from being used as a recruiting inducement, while prohibiting student athletes from entering the transfer portal during their first three years of eligibility without penalty. 

Government accountability

Atlanta suburb East Point strives to recover nearly $800,000 lost in email scam

The city of East Point lost nearly $800,000 in 2021 after someone hacked the city’s email system and sent four fake invoices from city email addresses asking for money to be wired to a fake company. The losses became public knowledge after they were discussed in a recent audit report.

How many government departments does it take to cut grass?

Currently as many as five different departments across the city of Augusta are responsible for cutting grass on city property. But the city is now looking at the creation of a centralized right of way maintenance department to put all city grass cutting under one roof. 


Eviction court backlogs are ‘devastating,’ metro Atlanta landlords say

The pandemic-mandated eviction moratorium in Georgia ended in October 2021. But almost two years later, metro Atlanta landlords are still dealing with a court system backlog, with some waiting more than a year before a judge hears their case.

High mortgage rates will weigh on the housing market for years

The U.S. housing market faces a long recovery from the steep increase in mortgage rates over the past year, which brought an “abrupt end” to the real estate boom in the economy.  That is according to a new forecast from Moody’s Analytics, which projected that property values in the U.S. face a 2.4% decline next year.

Quotes of the Week

“Sometimes it seems there are more solutions than problems. On closer scrutiny, it turns out that many of today’s problems are the result of yesterday’s solutions.” – Thomas Sowell

“A stupid man’s report of what a clever man says is never accurate, because he unconsciously translates what he hears into something that he can understand.” – Betrand Russell

“Being humble means recognizing that we are not on earth to see how important we can become, but to see how much difference we can make in the lives of others.” – Gordon B. Hinckley

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