Friday Facts: March 17, 2017

It’s Friday! 

Traffic is picking up in the reversible I-75 South Metro Express Toll lanes. This photograph was taken southbound, out of Metro Atlanta, on the afternoon of February 24. Friday afternoon traffic won't be this sparse for much longer!
Traffic is picking up in the reversible I-75 South Metro Express Toll lanes. This photograph was taken southbound, out of Metro Atlanta, on the afternoon of February 24. Given the condition the general purpose lanes, Friday afternoon traffic won’t be this sparse for much longer!


March 23: The deadline is Tuesday to sign up for the Foundation’s March Leadership Breakfast, “Capitol Insight,” with keynote speaker Lynn Westmoreland, who retired recently after six terms as a Congressman from Georgia. Cobb County’s Georgian Club, 8 a.m. $30. Information and registration here.

Quotes of note

“One single object … [will merit] the endless gratitude of the society: that of restraining the judges from usurping legislation.” – Thomas Jefferson, 1825 

“If Congress can apply money indefinitely to the general welfare, and are the sole and supreme judges of the general welfare, they may take the care of religion into their own hands; they may establish teachers in every State, county, and parish, and pay them out of the public Treasury; they may take into their own hands the education of children, establishing in like manner schools throughout the Union; they may undertake the regulation of all roads other than post roads. In short, every thing, from the highest object of State legislation, down to the most minute object of police, would be thrown under the power of Congress; for every object I have mentioned would admit the application of money, and might be called, if Congress pleased, provisions for the general welfare.” – James Madison, 1792


Constructive change: Homebuilder confidence soared in March to the highest level since 2005 on promises that President Trump will slash regulations, the National Association of Home Builders report, “particularly his recent executive order to rescind or revise the waters of the U.S. rule that impacts permitting.” Source: The Hill

Health care 

Do as they do? New York, one of the nation’s wealthiest states, gets about $6 billion a year more in federal Medicaid spending than its residents pay in federal taxes to finance other states’ Medicaid spending, a Forbes article points out. If Congress bases per capita Medicaid grants on prior spending, states like New York – the poster child for Medicaid fraud – are rewarded for their big spending ways while Georgia would be penalized for being a good steward of taxpayers’ dollars! As someone we know would say: NOT FAIR!

Who’s doing it? In 2014, the top 1 percent of health care users accounted for 23 percent of total expenditures, at an average individual cost of $107,000, according to the Washington Policy Center. The bottom 50 percent of users accounted for 3 percent of expenditures, at an average individual cost of $264.


Bills of interest that have passed both the Senate and the House:
bill reducing some of the onerous requirements on sale of beer from craft breweries (returned to the Senate to reconcile versions after passing both chambers).

Bills of interest that have passed in the House:
bill that would expand the ability of dental hygienists to provide dental care in safety net settings
bill increasing the cap on tuition tax credit scholarships
bill to lower Georgia’s individual income tax from 6 percent to 5.4 percent
bill that incorporates some of the charter school reforms recommended by the Governor’s Education Reform Commission

Bills of interest that have passed in the Senate:
bill that would make Georgia the 17th state to authorize direct primary care

Three criminal justice reform bills passed in the Senate, primarily focusing on streamlining the parole and probation system in Georgia as recommended by the Criminal Justice Reform Council, as well as improving juvenile justice outcomes. The bills are herehere, and here.

Did not Pass in the Senate:
bill to create universal Education Savings Accounts

Did not pass in the House:
bill that would encourage the development of broadband in rural Georgia 


Streetcar: The Atlanta Streetcar was projected to attract 2,000 daily passengers but is only moving about 700 riders a day, Streetsblog reports. Benita Dodd has written about this boondoggle here (2016), here (2015) and here (2014). In fact, according to her commentary, Streetcar boosters originally projected 2,600 weekday riders.

Good news: Ridership numbers for the first five weeks of operations of the I-75 South Metro Express Toll Lanes are encouraging. The highest was 31,547 trips, in the second week (the first two weeks were free to Peach Pass users). Second highest was February 25-March 3 (week 5), when 26,877 vehicles used all or part of the 12-mile reversible route. Thus far this year, 34,462 new Peach Passes have been purchased. Source: SRTA 

Airports: American City Business Journals declares Mineta International Airport in San Jose, Calif., the nation’s best run, “in virtually every financial and operating category … particularly when it came to productivity among its relatively lean workforce.” Atlanta’s Hartsfield Jackson International Airport, the world’s busiest passenger airport, was No. 57 overall and No. 10 on profitability.

Autonomous vehicles: Electric and shared-use vehicles will be most effective when used for shorter, intra-city trips where occupancy is maximized and vehicles are less affected by range limitations and more likely to have access to charging infrastructure, according to an INRIX study. It ranked 50 cities and found New Orleans is best suited for highly autonomous vehicles; Fort Worth, Texas, is last and Atlanta is No. 39.


A rose by any name: In Education Next’s 2016 national poll, Ten-Year Trends in Public Opinion, two thirds of Americans support uniform standards for education. That support dropped to about 50 percent when the term “Common Core” was used.


Effect of reforms: Congress is considering comprehensive reform of the federal tax code. Georgia and other states tend to tie their tax codes to the federal tax code, meaning that federal changes could influence state revenues. Find out how Georgia could be affected in the Tax Foundation’s latest publication. 

Friday Flashback

This month in the archives: In March five years ago the Foundation published, “Peach State Criminal Justice: Controlling Costs, Protecting the Public.” It noted, “[T]he average probation sentence in Georgia is 6.83 years, while the national average is 3.17 years. Caseloads for probation officers are, therefore, exceptionally high (200 to 1).” This year, the Legislature is focusing on streamlining the parole and probation system.


Have you visited our social media sites lately? The Foundation has 3,190 Facebook “likes!” Our Twitter account has 1,727 followers at Follow us on Instagram, too! 

The Forum: Ross Coker tackles Georgia’s probation challenges in, “The United States’ Criminal Caste: The Problem of Collateral Consequences.” 

Foundation in the news: Foundation Board of Trustees member Ray Padrón was profiled on 11 Alive’s “Executive Profiles” with Atlanta Business Chronicle editor David Rubinger. C-SPAN Book TV broadcast the Foundation’s Book Forum on, “Bottleneckers.” The Foundation’s 25th anniversary celebration was highlighted in winter 2017 edition of The Word, the newsletter of the Georgia Council on Economic Education. The Buena Vista Journal published, “Bottleneckers,” by Benita Dodd. The Coastal Courier and The Newnan Times-Herald published, “Giving Perspective to Scholarship Programs,” by Ben Scafidi. Benita’s commentary on Sunshine Week was published in Flagpole Magazine, The Macon Telegraph, The Marietta Daily Journal, Cobb Life and the Neighbor newspapers. Kelly McCutchen was quoted on income tax reform proposals under the Gold Dome in The Walton Tribune, The Valdosta Daily News and by The Heartland Institute. Kelly McCutchen was also quoted on Georgia tax reform and national health care reform in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  

Visit to read our latest commentary, “How States Can Break the Health Care Logjam,” by Kelly McCutchen.

Have a great weekend!

Kelly McCutchen and Benita Dodd

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