Today’s the day: The Foundation is hosting the 2019 Georgia Legislative Policy Forum at the Renaissance Atlanta Waverly. We hope to see you there!
January 28, 2020: Mark your calendar for the Georgia Public Policy Foundation’s Anniversary Celebration and Freedom Award Dinner at the Fox Theatre on Tuesday, January 28!
Quotes of note
“Nothing can enter the public treasury for the benefit of one citizen or one class unless other citizens and other classes have been forced to send it in. If every person draws from the treasury the amount he has put in, it is true that the law then plunders nobody. But this procedure does nothing for the persons who have no money. It does not promote equality of income. The law can be an instrument of equalization only as it takes from some persons and gives to other persons. When the law does this, it is an instrument of plunder.” – Frederic Bastiat, 1850
“When law and morality contradict each other, the citizen has the cruel alternative of either losing his moral sense or losing his respect for the law.” – Frederic Bastiat
“If Bastiat were alive today, he would be disappointed with our failure to keep the law within its proper domain.” – Walter Williams
Energy and environment
Matthew 7:24-27: Hurricane Season ends November 30. Hurricanes, storms and tides erode coastal beaches, especially those of the flimsy barrier islands, and government spends billions on “beach nourishment” projects. In August, Georgia’s Tybee Island (pop. 3,100), with a 3.5-mile beachfront, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers signed a deal to place up to 1.3 million cubic yards of sand along the 3.5-mile beachfront at a cost of more than $14.5 million, to “help add protection for the community against future storm damage,” according to WJCL.com. Since 1956, the Corps has “nourished” 350 miles of shoreline, mostly on the Atlantic and Gulf coasts.
Oversight: States’ non-compliance with healthcare provider screening and enrollment requirements contributed to over a third of the $36.3 billion estimated improper payments in Medicaid in 2018, according to the Government Accountability Office.
Rising tide: Amazon, Apple, Walmart and other consumer-centric companies pose major challenges as they move into healthcare, but the transition can also greatly benefit traditional players, healthcare leaders say. “Ultimately, it’s going to mean improving quality, redesigning systems and taking some costs out of the infrastructure,” Dr. Tony Tedeschi, CEO of Detroit Medical Center, told a roundtable recently. Source: Becker’s Hospital Review
Inpatient charges: Kaiser State Health Facts estimated the expenses incurred for a day of hospital inpatient care, based on the 2017 American Hospital Association Annual Survey. Nationally, the amount was $2,129 per day at state and local government hospitals, $2,574 for nonprofit hospitals and $1,996 at for-profit hospitals. For Georgia, it was $917 at state and local government hospitals, $2,005 at nonprofit hospitals and $1,861 at for-profit hospitals.
College enrollment: The University System of Georgia reports enrollment in its 26 institutions rose by 1.5% this fall over the fall of 2018, to a record-high 333,507 students. Enrollment grew 3.8% in the research universities and 1.8% in the system’s four comprehensive universities, Kennesaw State, Georgia Southern, Valdosta State and the University of West Georgia. Enrollment declined by 1.2% at state universities and by 2.5% at the state colleges.
Recession hits NAEP? The “Great Recession” might have dampened scores on the Nation’s Report Card, according to Michael J. Petrilli. First, through its devastating impact on fragile families and their young children, and second, through the impact on school spending as state coffers ran dry. After analyzing various cohorts of students over the past decade, Petrilli suggests the economic downturn likely did significant harm to students’ learning. Source: Fordham Institute
Foreign funding: By law, colleges and universities need only report gifts that exceed $250,000 per calendar year from a single source, without having to disclose a foreign donor’s name or the gift’s purpose. As the National Association of Scholars notes, while “externally funded programs are not fundamentally malign … if and when they are left unchecked, these same programs open the door for other countries to hold dangerous amounts of leverage in our domestic affairs.”
Taxes and spending
Phone tax: A typical American household with four wireless phones paying $100 per month for taxable wireless service can expect to pay about $260 per year in taxes, fees, and surcharges – up from $229 in 2018 – according to the Tax Foundation. That totals $17.1 billion in 2019. Illinois is No. 1, with an effective rate of 31.2% while Oregon has the lowest, 11.3%. Georgia is No. 27, with a rate of almost 21%. Find out more here.
Internet sales tax: After the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year that states could require remote sellers to collect and remit sales taxes, the National Association of State Budget Officers forecast sales tax collections would grow 4.8%. “Given the state revenue windfall, taxpayers might have hoped that states would cut other taxes,” writes Merrill Matthews of the Institute for Policy Innovation. “But 47 states see this new tax grab as an excuse to spend even more money. As the State Budget Officers observe: ‘Recent growth in state revenues enabled governors to propose 2020 budgets providing for a moderate general fund spending increase of 3.8%.’”
Increase: In September 2019, in part due to an extra workday, transit systems carried 2.9% more riders than in September 2018. Data released by the Federal Transit Administration show that excluding New York, ridership grew by 0.5%, and in 27 of the nation’s 50 largest urban areas. Every major mode saw an increase except light rail, which had a 5.4% decline. MARTA reported a whopping 26% jump in bus ridership (almost 4.5 million riders in September 2019 versus almost 3.6 million in September 2018); a 3.4% decline in train riders and a 33% Streetcar ridership increase, from 18,825 riders in September 2018 to 25,017 in 2019. Year-to-date transit ridership is still down over 2018. Source: The Antiplanner
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This month in the archives: In November five years ago, the Foundation published, “Outlaw Policing for Profit in Georgia.” It noted, “Nobody is under the illusion that everyone stopped and searched by police or sheriff’s deputies is innocent. But they should be proven guilty of the crime of which they are accused.”
Visit www.georgiapolicy.org to read the Foundation’s latest commentary, “Zoning Regulations Hinder Housing Affordability,” by Michael Hendrix.
Have a great weekend.
Kyle Wingfield and Benita Dodd
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