Friday Facts: March 4th, 2011

It’s Friday!

  What can you do to help the Foundation celebrate its 20th birthday in 2011? E-mail  to share how you can highlight the Foundation’s “20 For 20,” campaign. Will you recommend us to 20 of your Facebook friends? Will you commit to $20 a month for our 20th anniversary? If so, go to … And let us know!

We partnered with the Concord Coalition this week to bring the Fiscal Solutions Tour to Georgia. You can read Mike Klein’s report on the event, but here are two quotes:
– “Total federal spending net of inflation has grown almost 300 percent since 1970. It is expected to grow by another 250 percent between now and 2040. At the same time, annually appropriated programs such as education, transportation and law enforcement (discretionary spending), which includes all of the expressly enumerated responsibilities accorded to the federal government under the Constitution, has shrunk from 62 percent of the federal budget in 1970 to 38 percent today, and is projected to decline further yet, to 18 percent in 2040.”
-“We could raise more revenue from lower rates on the income tax and have it much simpler if we get rid of the complexities of exclusions and deductions.” Alice Rivlin, former budget director in the Clinton Administration and member of  President Obama’s deficit reduction commission. (The commission recommended lowering income tax rates, simplifying the code and broadening the base — the exact recommendations of Georgia Tax reform Council.)

Upcoming events and opportunities
– March ? (Date will be determined once the General Assembly calendar is set.): “Grading Georgia’s Tax Reform Plan” featuring Jonathan Williams, Director of the Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force for the American Legislative Exchange Council. The event will be held at noon in the Empire Room of the Floyd Building across the street from the Capitol. The cost to attend this Policy Briefing Luncheon is $35, but there will be no charge for legislators.
– April 19: Mark your calendar for a noon Policy Briefing Luncheon at the Georgian Club with Samuel Staley, Ph.D., director of urban growth and land use policy at Reason Foundation, on “Getting the Funding You Want for the Transportation You Need.” The cost to attend this event is $35. Register here.
 Missed an event? Policy Briefing Luncheons and Leadership Breakfasts are videotaped and available for online streaming at FoundationTV on the Foundation’s Web site at

The Economy
– Fewer jobs, more productivity. The average American factory worker today is responsible for more than $180,000 of annual output, triple the $60,000 in 1972. “The truth is that America still makes a lot of stuff, and we’re making more of it than ever before. We’re merely able to do it with a fraction of the workers needed in the past,” says Mark Perry, a professor of economics at the University of Michigan, Flint, and a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.
– More reasons we need tax reform to jump start our economy: Georgia’s unemployment rate remains at an all-time high and 1.4 percentage points higher than the national rate. Georgia’s ten-year growth in personal income per capita is next to last in the nation.

Budget and Taxes
– Georgia ranks second in the nation, behind Mississippi, for the number of tax filers without federal income tax liability.
– The top 10 percent of Georgians filing tax returns in 2007 had incomes over $100,000 and paid 57 percent of all state income taxes, up from 40 percent in 1997. Those in the bottom 53 percent (incomes less than $25,000) paid 9 percent of the total in 2007, down from 10 percent in 1997.
 Following Georgia’s lead: Michigan officials estimate the switch to a hybrid pension plan, which combines a 401(k)-type component with a guaranteed benefit, will save the state’s public-school system between $200 million and $400 million over 10 years. Utah officials project the move will save the state $5 million a year for every 1,000 new employees, potentially bringing $180 million in savings by 2018. As of 2009, all new Georgia state employees (excluding teachers) are automatically enrolled in a hybrid plan.

Health care
 Think we need to address entitlement reform? A couple retiring last year paid $109,000 into Medicare but can expect $343,000 back from the system, according to an Urban Institute study reported in the Wall Street Journal.
– “Medicaid is arguably the worst health care program in the country,” says Galen Institute President Grace-Marie Turner. “Recipients are promised a long list of benefits, but doctors who participate in the program are paid so little, and the paperwork is so onerous, that many can afford to see only a few Medicaid patients. As a result, patients flood to hospital emergency rooms where — if they wait long enough — they eventually will be seen. Many have only routine health complaints that easily could have been handled in a doctor’s office. A study by the National Center for Health Statistics found that Medicaid recipients were more likely to have multiple emergency room visits in a year than those with private insurance and the uninsured. Other studies have shown that Medicaid recipients are less likely to receive adequate care, and they are more likely to have worse outcomes than those with private insurance. They have also been shown to experience higher rates of hospital mortality than even the uninsured.”
– Our rule is don’t complain about something unless you have a proposal to fix it, so here are recent Medicaid reform proposals from the Manhattan Institute and the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

Criminal Justice
– Kentucky’s General Assembly approved a bipartisan bill this week designed to cut prison and jail populations, saving an estimated $42 million a year, in part by shifting many non-violent drug offenders into addiction treatment programs and community supervision.

– Click on this link or visit to read the Foundation’s latest commentary, “Are Georgia’s OPEB Liabilities a Problem?” by Allen Buckley.

Have a great weekend.

Kelly McCutchen

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