Friday Facts: May 4, 2018

It’s Friday!

The Foundation’s Benita Dodd took this photograph at the Fairplay voting precinct in Fannin County this week to remind you early voting has begun, you should buckle up and, if you’re driving, you should know that Governor Nathan Deal signed hands-free driving legislation into law this week. Effective July 1, it’s hands off your cellphone for drivers in Georgia!

May 23: Register by May 21 for “Telling the Human Story,” a Leadership Breakfast keynoted by Arthur Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute. This 8 a.m. event at the Georgian Club is co-hosted by the Georgia Public Policy Foundation and the Georgia Center for Opportunity. $30. For more information and registration, go here.

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Quotes of note

“I have seldom known anyone who deserted truth in trifles that could be trusted in matters of importance.” – William Paley 

“Wherever the real power in a Government lies, there is the danger of oppression. In our Governments, the real power lies in the majority of the Community, and the invasion of private rights is chiefly to be apprehended, not from the acts of Government contrary to the sense of its constituents, but from acts in which the Government is the mere instrument of the major number of the constituents.” – James Madison

“Successful reentry from prison starts the first day someone enters a cell. We as a nation can no longer afford to simply warehouse prisoners when we could be using their incarceration not only to punish but also to provide training and rehabilitation to help them succeed after release.” – Rebecca Hagelin


Bullet train misfiring: In 2008, California’s high-speed train project was projected to cost $33 billion and whisk riders from San Francisco to Los Angeles in less than three hours. Since then, the estimated trip time has grown and “the project has been scaled back dramatically by lopping off the Sacramento and San Diego segments while ballooning the estimated cost from $77 billion to $98 billion,” said California Congressman Jeff Denham. The U.S. Department of Energy began an audit of the project in April. Source: Fox News

Streetcar smart: This week, the city of Fort Lauderdale voted to end more than 14 years of support for its controversial Wave streetcar project. The city had promised to walk away if the contract price for the 2.8-mile downtown system exceeded $142.5 million; bids came in higher. The Broward County Commission is expected to follow suit next week. Source: Sun-Sentinel

Derailed: Voters in Nashville soundly defeated a plan to raise four taxes to fund a $5.4 billion transit system anchored by a 26-mile light rail system. Much of the city’s establishment supported the referendum, but in a large voter turnout, 64 percent opposed the plan and it gained majority support in just five of 35 Metro Council districts. Source: U.S. News

Train wreck: When the $2 billion Miami Intermodal Center started construction in 2011, the plan was to have its central station serviced by long-distance Amtrak trains. Construction finished in 2013, Reason Foundation reports but, in a multi-million-dollar mishap, the platform built for Amtrak is 200 feet too short for the long-distance trains.

Land use

Castles in the air: Dispelling the myth that moving to transit-oriented development provides cost savings, a new study of 10 years of data from 11,000 families found the net overall effect is a wash. “We conclude that the location affordability literature may significantly overstate the promise of cost savings in transit-rich neighborhoods,” say urban planning researchers from Cornell and Rutgers. Back in January 2004, Benita Dodd wrote in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “Fannie Mae’s ‘Smart Commute Initiative,’ aimed at promoting housing affordability and alternatives to the automobile, is neither smart nor affordable.”

Economic opportunity

Licensing: Nebraska, which licenses at least 174 different professions, is on track for major occupational licensing reform. A bill awaiting the governor’s signature and based on the Institute for Justice’s model reforms would fast-track revisions. The state would “use the least restrictive regulation to protect consumers” and would review 20 percent of existing licensing requirements annually. Source: Wall Street Journal

By the numbers: It’s National Small Business Week. Did you know? Of Georgia’s 278,125 business establishments, 97.4 percent employ fewer than 100 and 75.8 percent employ fewer than 10 people. Source: Georgia USA Small Business Resource Directory


National Charter Schools Week: May 7-11 is National Charter Schools Week! Did you know that in 2017, six of the nation’s 10 best high schools were charter schools? In 2017-18, more than 7,000 charter schools serve nearly 3.2 million students in 43 states and Washington, D.C., according to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. Find out more about charters in Georgia at the website for the Georgia Charter Schools Association.

Choice: The New York Posts reports that 59 percent of that city’s black kindergartners attended schools outside their zone in the 2016-17 academic year, about half of them in charter schools. That compared with 39 percent for Hispanics, 29 percent for whites and 28 percent for Asians. Forty percent of first-time kindergartners enrolled in schools outside their zone in 2016-17; a decade before it was 28 percent.

Choice works: While school choice critics focus on “small improvements” in test scores, studies increasingly show that school choice has a long-term impact, including increased access to higher education, Kevin Chavous writes in The Washington Examiner. 

Friday Flashback

This month in the archives: In May 20 years ago, the Foundation published, “Should the Corporate Income Tax be Repealed?” It noted, “The reduction of the state income tax would also be viewed as a competitive move by neighboring states. This type of competition is arguably better for Georgia than piecemeal deals in attracting a new auto manufacturer, for example, or credits for investments in needy parts of the state. This is because all potential entrants are given the incentive to invest in Georgia and there is no incentive (or ability) for the state to give away the ‘store’ to any one investor by forgoing significant tax revenues in the future.”


Foundation in the news: WABE-FM quoted Kyle Wingfield in a segment about Georgia’s 2019 budget. The Savannah Morning News published Kyle’s column about Georgia K-12 students’ NAEP test scores. The Marietta Daily Journal quoted Benita Dodd on air quality in Cobb County. The Marietta Daily Journal also quoted Benita questioning a commissioner’s assertion that millage rate increases are “absolutely necessary” in Cobb. The Heartland Foundation quoted Benita in an article on Certificate-of-Need reform legislation.

Visit to read our latest commentary, “Founder of Georgia’s First Start-Up Charter School Shares Recipe for Success,” by Martha Nesbit. 

Have a great weekend.

Kyle Wingfield and Benita Dodd

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