Friday Facts: June 10th, 2011

It’s Friday!

Rule of law
– “The law passed on partisan lines by Congress last year blatantly violates the U.S. Constitution by mandating Americans to enter the marketplace and purchase products. This direct assault on individual liberty exceeds Congress’s enumerated powers.” – Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens, on the Obamacare lawsuit argued in federal court this week in Atlanta
– Penumbras and emanations: “The Majority repeatedly states that the 1983 Constitution grants ‘exclusive authority’ to local districts over public education. There is no such grant, whatsoever, in the Constitution.” –  McKenna Long & Aldridge brief seeking reconsideration of the recent Georgia Supreme Court ruling that the Georgia Charter Schools Commission is unconstitutional

– Take less than 10 minutes to watch the video of the Carpe Diem School to see the future of education. With the right leadership, this can happen in Georgia, too:
– Class act: The nation’s graduation rate has reached its highest point in two decades, according to an analysis by Editorial Projects in Education Research Center. The proportion of public high school students earning diplomas for the class of 2008 (the latest data available) approached 72 percent, exceeding an earlier peak in 1991. Every racial and ethnic group posted solid gains for the class of 2008, marking the second straight year of across-the-board improvements. But Georgia, which listed its official 2008 graduation rate at 80 percent, has a rate of just 58.8 percent in the national analysis – the fifth lowest in the nation. The state is moving to adopt nationally accepted methods for calculating its high school graduation rate. Read more here: Source: Education Week

Taxes and spending
The percentage of households that pay no federal income taxes has more than doubled over the past two decades, creating a detachment between many Americans and the cost of their government, Heritage Foundation senior policy analyst Paul Winfree notes in a new report, “Obamacare Tax Subsidies: Bigger Deficit, Fewer Taxpayers, Damaged Economy.” He points out that under the Obamacare tax subsidy, the disconnect will increase between Americans who pay taxes for services and those who receive services but pay lower or no taxes.
– Georgia tied with Oregon to rank second 
in the nation for its property tax administration by the Council on State Taxation. The state earned a B+ in the annual scorecard that compared how states rank on standardized procedures for filing and paying, allowing appeals of assessments to a neutral independent entity, and uniform tax bases and rates on different types of property. First was Maryland (B+). Last in the nation was New York, with an F. Source: Tax Foundation

– Georgia on the right road: States spent an estimated $131 billion on transportation in fiscal year 2010, but many cannot answer critical questions about what returns this investment is generating, according to a new report by the Pew Center on the States and the Rockefeller Foundation.  The report, “Measuring Transportation Investments,”listed Georgia as one of just 13 states that have goals, performance measures and data needed to ensure transportation systems are meeting key policy outcomes.

Criminal justice
– Lawmakers in North Carolina advanced a bill that supporters say will reduce the state prison population and deter probation violations. The House voted 107-9 for the “Justice Reinvestment Act,” which would revise sentencing guidelines and give probation officers broader discretion in choosing punishment when supervising offenders. Proponents said the legislation would save the state nearly $290 million over the next six years by reducing the need for more than 3,000 state prison beds and that some of those savings could be reinvested into treatment programs that reduce crime. (The first meeting of Georgia’s new Council on Criminal Justice Reform took place this week.) Source: North Carolina News Network

– Save the date: 
The Foundation’s 20th anniversary celebration is scheduled for the evening of Monday, October 24. Details to follow.
– Save the date: The Foundation’s second annual Legislative Policy Briefing is scheduled for Friday, September 30. Last year, more than 250 people attended to hear nearly three dozen experts discuss Georgia public policy. Details to follow.

Energy and Environment
– Georgia’s emissions testing program, begun in 1996, tests on average 2.5 million cars a year at a cost of around $20 per vehicle. According to the Clean Air Task Force Web site, the program has found 2 million vehicles in violation of emissions standards since 1996 and expects to prevent 4,700 tons of pollutants in 2011. By our rough calculations, that would mean the program has found about 5 percent of vehicles in violation in 15 years, and that it costs $10,638 per ton of pollutant prevented in 2011. (Not to mention the time wasted by millions of drivers every year.)

Health care
– Still think you won’t lose your insurance? At least 30 percent of employers are likely to stop offering health insurance once provisions of Obamacare kick in 2014, according to a study by consultant McKinsey. Among employers with a high awareness of the health reform law, the number likely to drop health coverage for workers rises to more than 50 percent. This is particularly interesting, considering that liberals criticized proposals to provide tax credits for individuals to purchase their own, portable health insurance, claiming the move would destroy the employer-provided health insurance market. Further, under Obamacare many Americans will be eligible for government subsidies if they buy their own insurance, meaning that the cost of health reform may have been underestimated by trillions of dollars. Source:

– Visit to read the Foundation’s latest commentary, “Global Deforestation, a Statistical Thicket,” by Harold Brown.

Have a great weekend.

Kelly McCutchen

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