Friday Facts: March 23, 2012

It’s Friday!


Quotes of note
“More frightening than any particular beliefs or policies is an utter lack of any sense of a need to test those beliefs and policies against hard evidence. Mistakes can be corrected by those who pay attention to facts … dogmatism will not be corrected by those who are wedded to a vision.” –  Thomas Sowell
– “Revolutionary … the ground has moved beneath the feet of higher education, much of which will look very different in but a few short years.” – Thomas K. Lindsey, writing on the impact of MIT’s new digital learning project, MITx

– “If you have ten thousand regulations, you destroy all respect for the law.” – Winston Churchill 

Health care

– FoundationTV: Next week is a huge week for the 26-state coalition challenging the constitutionality of the federal Patient Protection and Affordability Act, and Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens will be at the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday to view the proceedings. On Thursday, he updated attendees at a Foundation Leadership Breakfast on the litigation. Watch the event on the Foundation’s YouTube channel: Click here to watch AG Olens. Click here to watch Foundation Senior Fellow Ron Bachman discuss state-focused solutions. Click here to watch my update to attendees on the legislative session thus far.


– The ‘Study Abroad’ Boondoggle: Study-abroad programs have proliferated at American colleges and universities in recent years, despite their poor reputation for cultural immersion and academic rigor, Independent Institute Senior Fellow Richard K. Vedder writes in Bloomberg News. “Thankfully, some schools are taking steps to improve the educational quality of study-abroad programs. But too many programs have escaped scrutiny – an especially egregious oversight at a time when federal financing is under severe strain.” Read more here:
– Charter School debate: Private management companies have become the latest target of charter school opponents. Charter schools not only have to run a school, they also typically have to replicate all the business and administrative services that traditional schools receive from their central office. Also, most charter schools are small and therefore don’t have the economies of scale to maintain a full administrative and business office. In fact, it would be a waste of taxpayer dollars to do so. So, just like most small businesses, many charter schools hire private companies to provide payroll, accounting and other services. Since most charter schools don’t receive capital funding, many also lease their facilities from private companies. This isn’t crony capitalism – it’s efficiency and free enterprise. In fact, traditional school systems could learn a thing or two from charter schools, especially when some districts are spending more than $1,000 per child on their central office.


– Entrepreneurial activity was a bit down in 2011, but metro Atlanta remains an entrepreneurial powerhouse, according to the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. The Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity shows Los Angeles had the highest entrepreneurial activity rate at 580 per 100,000 adults. Atlanta had the second-highest rate at 500 per 100,000 adults. Georgia had about 350 entrepreneurs per 100,000 people and just missed the top 10. Source: Atlanta Business Chronicle



– Up, up and away: It’s no wonder Denver’s Regional Transportation District is “reluctantly” approving a plan to bring a “hybrid” of train and bus rapid transit service to the district’s northwest corridor. Its FasTracks commuter system plan originally was estimated to cost $7.4 billion. Now the board would be going back to voters in November to ask them to fund nearly all of the segment through a new 0.4 percent sales tax, doubling the tax that voters were persuaded in 2004 would pay for the entire system. Source: Denver Post

Criminal justice reform

– Smart on crime: Houston’s murder rate fell 26 percent in 2011, reaching its lowest level since 1965, according to Marc Levin of the Texas Public Policy Foundation. More broadly, the city’s violent crime rate declined 7 percent in 2011. This crime reduction has occurred simultaneously with a drop in both the local and state incarceration rates. As recently as 2008, the Harris County Jail occasionally held up to 12,000 inmates. Today, the jail population has plummeted to about 8,500. Consequently, Harris County taxpayers no longer must pony up $31 million to send overflow inmates to jails as far away as Louisiana. Overtime costs that recently exceeded $40 million per year have been slashed, and the sheriff’s office has asked for a flat budget for the next fiscal year. Read more at Source: Houston Chronicle


Social media
– This week in the Forum This week saw the introduction of tax reform legislation;  my Forum article  discussed the good, the bad and the lost opportunities in tax reform.  Forum Editor Mike Klein wrote that the second version of criminal justice reform legislation  eliminated many sections that could be administered without legislation. Foundation Vice President Benita Dodd wrote about next week’s U.S. Supreme Court hearing into the constitutionality of the 2010 federal health care reform law. Also on The Forum: articles about this week’s Senate passage of the charter schools constitutional amendment resolution and possible sales tax changes  ahead for Georgia online shoppers. Read these and other recent Foundation articles on The Forum at

– Twitter: Congratulations to Tracie Mason Blasie of Gwinnett County, who this week became the Foundation’s 600th Twitter follower. Follow us at

- Facebook: Join the more than 5,500 Foundation Facebook fans at and get your policy news first!

– Visit to read our commentary today, “It’s Not Too Late for Georgia Health Reform,” by Ronald E. Bachman.

– Georgia lost an iconic figure last week with the passing of Furman Bisher. He was a wonderful person as well as one of the great sports writers. I will especially miss his annual Thanksgiving Day list of what he was thankful for in life.



Kelly McCutchen


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