Friday Facts: October 20, 2023

Housing affordability is a growing concern for many Georgia residents.

To explore solutions to this issue, the Georgia Public Policy Foundation hosted the Georgia Housing Summit with the theme of “Innovating the Way to Affordability” last week. Each panel covered a specific area: Housing Policy, Neighborly Innovation, Financial Innovation and Building Innovation.

A bipartisan group of state and local officials discussed the current challenges and opportunities they see. 

“I’m watching the word ‘density’ stop being such a bad word,” Woodstock Mayor Michael Cadlwell said. That sentiment was joined by other panelists who spoke of the need to increase housing supply, along with potential options. Particularly in the face of current residents who seemingly want to stop any new construction once they move to an area.

I hope you will check out this week’s commentary on the 2023 Georgia Housing Summit. We also have the latest news and analysis from the last week, including:

  • Georgia’s now reporting $11 billion in reserves after the third year of big surpluses
  • ACT scores drop to a 30 year low
  • Georgia lawmakers to look at the threats and opportunities of AI
  • New report shows inflation hits Atlanta particularly hard

Have a great weekend,

– Kyle Wingfield

Friday’s Freshest

Is support for free market principles wavering?

Organizations like ours, which are committed to advancing the principles that made this country the greatest prosperity engine in the history of humanity, are witnessing a limited but worrying trend among some conservative policymakers: support for big government intervention in the arrangements between retailers and banks that allow consumers to use electronic transactions.

It’s true: Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction

The rest of us cannot assume the future is a given any more than we can treat the past as past. We cannot pocket gains of liberty or even decency, treating them as permanent. They must be re-established, re-endorsed, reconfirmed. 

Housing affordability is a challenge for Georgia that is only growing

Home prices continue to rise, as do mortgage rates. Meanwhile, people continue to flock to Georgia, increasing the competition for reasonably priced homes. These fundamentals point to the need for more housing supply. But new housing starts last year were still stuck at late-1990s levels. 

Georgia should follow North Carolina and adopt universal school choice

Many states, including all neighboring states save for Alabama, are adopting policies that allow parents to choose the methods of education that best fit their children. In fact, this year alone, at least 19 states have significantly expanded school choice policies. That’s why National Review called 2023 “the most successful year in the history of school choice advocacy.”

In The News

Counting the costs NIMBYism imposes on everyone else

It’s worth knowing just how costly it is to effectively give the loudest voices at a zoning board meeting the power of the veto. Chris Denson of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation joined the CATO Daily Podcast to discuss the tax NIMBYs impose on the rest of us.

New report: Georgia not quite an unregulated paradise

In a recent report from the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, Chris Denson and J. Thomas Perdue compile the strictest minimum lot size regulations and minimum home size regulations from a range of cities and counties in Georgia. 

The Latest


Georgia reports nearly $11B in cash reserves after third year of big surpluses

Georgia now has $10.7 billion in surplus cash that its leaders can spend however they want after the state ran a huge surplus for the third straight year. The State Accounting Office, in a report, said Georgia ran a $5.3 billion surplus in the 2022 budget year ended June 30, even after spending $32.6 billion.

Gas tax reinstatement holds up Georgia’s revenues in September

Georgia’s net tax collections during September totaled nearly $3.3 billion, an increase of 6.4% from a year ago. The collections were nearly $199.1 million higher than last year. However, September net tax collections decreased by 3.2%, or $97.8 million, without motor fuel tax revenues and after local sales tax distribution adjustments.

Ports Authority proposes another Savannah Harbor deepening project

Just a year and a half after completing a $1 billion project to deepen Savannah Harbor from 42 feet to 47 feet, the Georgia Ports Authority is launching another deepening plan.The agency is seeking congressional authorization for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to study the economic and environmental impacts of another deepening project.

Retail sales unexpectedly jump in September as consumers keep spending

Americans picked up their retail spending in September, even as they confronted an uptick in inflation, high interest rates and fears over an economic recession. Retail sales, a measure of how much consumers spent on a number of everyday goods including cars, food and gasoline, rose 0.7% in September.

Walmart will build a $350M milk plant in South Georgia

Walmart announced Wednesday it will build a new $350 million milk processing plant in Valdosta, hiring nearly 400 people. Arkansas-based Walmart said the plant will provide milk to more than 750 Walmart and Sam’s Club stores in Georgia and neighboring states. This is the second milk processing plant Walmart has built.


Georgia receives a ‘B’ for education freedom

Georgia received an overall B score and ranked 11th nationwide for its education freedom. The American Legislative Exchange Council 2023 Index of State Education Freedom “focuses exclusively on the policies each state has in place to ensure their students can access the best educational environment for them.”

No more zeros: Atlanta Public Schools to make changes to grading system

Atlanta Public School students will no longer receive a zero if they are unable or unwilling to complete an assignment. The “amendment” to the grading system requires that zero to be upgraded to a 50. Teachers say they have also been asked to go back and change old grades to reflect the new rule.

DeKalb County schools will pay and train you to become a teacher

DeKalb County School Board members approved a plan to recruit and train people looking to  become teachers — a way for the school district to fill teacher vacancies. By its count, DeKalb County School District claims the highest number of teacher vacancies in metro Atlanta—183 vacancies as of mid-October, two months into the school year.

Georgia Ag Experience offers real world know-how for students

While most conform to the traditional classroom setup, the Georgia Ag Experience is a 36-foot mobile classroom that showcases Georgia agriculture on the road. Technology and digital learning enable students to take a deep dive into several Georgia agricultural commodities.

ACT test scores drop to new 30-year low

High school students’ scores on the ACT college admissions test have dropped to their lowest in more than three decades, showing a lack of student preparedness for college-level coursework, according to the nonprofit organization that administers the test. Scores have been falling for six consecutive years, but the trend accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Government accountability

Georgia lawmakers to study promise, threats of artificial intelligence

Georgia lawmakers on both sides of the state Capitol are taking their first serious look this fall at how rapidly evolving artificial intelligence technology is likely to affect public policy. A House subcommittee formed to study the issue has already begun holding hearings, while two Senate committees are set to launch a parallel effort Nov. 1.

Government agency ratings remain largely negative

Of the 16 federal government agencies and departments included in the latest Gallup survey, just four receive positive job-performance ratings from a majority of Americans, making 2023 the third consecutive year of relatively low readings. The IRS is viewed in the lowest regard. Meanwhile, the U.S. Postal Service gets the highest marks. 


Home foreclosures are on the upswing nationwide

Home foreclosures are on the rise as Americans continue to grapple with the ongoing cost-of-living crisis. That is according to a new report published by real estate data provider ATTOM, which found that foreclosure filings – which includes default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions – surged 28% in the third quarter to 124,539. 

Developer withdraws application to build townhomes in Woodstock

An applicant has withdrawn their request for 29 townhomes after Woodstock City Council members and area residents cited their concerns with the lack of a master plan over the last couple of months. 


Having fun is more expensive than ever

There’s a new lament on social media: It costs $100 just to leave the house. While perhaps a bit of an exaggeration, it’s a conundrum that may be one of the reasons everyone feels so bad about the economy, as seen in survey after survey.

Atlanta has the fifth highest inflation of any city in the country

The metro Atlanta area has some of the highest inflation rates of any city in the country. According to a new analysis from WalletHub, the Atlanta area ranked fifth among the metropolitan areas with the biggest inflation problems. 

ESPN viewers miss end to Buford/ Mill Creek game

Mill Creek’s back-and-forth win over rival Buford had a nationwide audience’s attention until the final seconds when an ESPN broadcasting decision made the viewership, both locally and elsewhere, irate. With 20 seconds left and Buford driving in one final attempt to tie the game, ESPN switched to an NBA preseason game. 

Quotes of the Week

“If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself.” – Albert Einstein

“Being prepared for the unforeseen is not about predicting the future, but rather cultivating the inner strength to face whatever comes our way with strength and resilience.” – Marcus Aurelius

“Listen more than you talk. Nobody learned anything by hearing themselves speak.” – Richard Branson

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