Friday Facts: September 8, 2017

It’s Friday!

A river of headlights from vehicles crawling northbound on I-75 in Downtown Atlanta Thursday at noon highlights the danger Hurricane Irma poses as residents of Florida and Georgia headed inland in search of refuge and accommodation.
A river of headlights from vehicles crawling northbound on I-75 in Downtown Atlanta Thursday at noon highlights the danger Hurricane Irma poses as residents of Florida and Georgia headed inland in search of refuge and accommodation.

On a personal note

Hurricane Irma’s path remains uncertain, but residents in Florida, Georgia and the Southeast coast are evacuating or bracing for its impact. Our thoughts and prayers are with those in its path.

We were in San Antonio, Texas, last week for the State Policy Network’s 25th annual conference. That city was spared any effects from Hurricane Harvey but, as you know from media reports, many lives, homes and possessions were lost closer to the Gulf Coast. Georgians generously stepped in to donate and volunteer.

Now Georgians’ lives, too, are at risk. As you may already know, Gov. Nathan Deal has issued a mandatory evacuation order for all areas east of I-95 and other parts of the state’s coast. He expanded a state of emergency to 30 southeast Georgia counties and plans a news conference today at 10 a.m. to outline the state’s storm response.

You are part of one of the most giving states in the most generous nation in the world. Collectively, Americans – individuals – gave a world record $373 billion in 2016.

Thank you for caring. Thank you for helping. Thank you for doing it again and again.


GLPF2017websplashOctober 13: Early Bird Registration is now open for the 2017 Georgia Legislative Policy Forum on Friday, October 13 at the Renaissance Atlanta Waverly Hotel. The theme for the daylong event is “Wisdom, Justice, Transformation,” with a focus on health care and education. Early Bird Registration is $100; register here. Details to follow! View previous events here.

Quotes of note 

The bosom of America is open to receive not only the Opulent and respectable Stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all Nations and Religions; whom we shall welcome to a participation of all our rights and privileges, if by decency and propriety of conduct they appear to merit the enjoyment.” – George Washington (1783)

“Frequently, government will say they need to create jobs. Since government doesn’t actually create jobs, they give incentives (aka tax breaks) to large corporations to move into the city. This means your tax dollars, and the taxes paid by the small businesses, are going to subsidize the big corporations. Local, unique small businesses do not get the same breaks given to big, out of state corporations.” – Susan Kochevar


Flood insurance: As the damage from Hurricane Harvey is tallied and Hurricane Irma threatens the Southeast with flooding and other damage, it’s worth noting two recent reports about the perverse incentives of the National Flood Insurance program

  • Writing for R Street, Josiah Neeley’s July 2016 paper warns, “People should, of course, be free to live where they want. However, it cannot be ignored the extent to which government policy at both the state and federal level has encouraged people to live in flood-prone and storm-prone areas. Government subsidies have distorted market signals, leading many into a false sense of security about the risks they face. Prices convey information, and this is particularly true when it comes to the risk expectations priced into the cost of insurance.”
  • Writing for the Cato Institute, Ike Brannon and Ari Blask’s Policy Analysis in July 2017 points out the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) expires on September 30, “offering policymakers an opportunity to rethink the scheme and bring forward reforms that would allow a private flood insurance market to develop in its place.The NFIP has serious flaws. Premiums are not priced to be actuarially sound, meaning they do not reflect covered risk. … Largely as a result of these deficiencies, the NFIP owes more than $25 billion to the U.S. Treasury.” This amount is likely to climb higher.

Criminal justice reform

Crime rates: The overall crime rate in 2017 is projected to decrease slightly, by 1.8 percent. If this estimate holds, 2017 will have the second-lowest crime rate since 1990, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. At the same time, according to, the Department of Justice in the Trump administration has been prosecuting fewer people for drug crimes than Obama’s Justice Department did – a 9 percent drop from 2016 to 2017.

Health care

Stifling innovation: John Stossel recently tested the innovative low-cost online vision care service, Opternative, which legislators in Georgia and a dozen other states have banned. The optometrists’ association would not talk to him about it. “I assume they knew I’d mock them for trying to ban the competition. Which they are trying to do. They wrote the FDA that the at-home test ‘should be taken off the market.’ What they’re really saying is that patients should not have the right to make any choices in their own vision care,” Stossel points out.


Affordable housing: Housing advocates and politicians often see high-rise construction is a solution to the problem of housing affordability, Joel Kotkin writes in “The causes of the problem, however, are principally prohibitions on urban fringe development of starter homes. Critics also note that high-rises in urban neighborhoods often replace older buildings, which are generally more affordable,” Kotkin writes. He adds, “Several factors suggest the high-rise residential boom is over.”

Tax reform

Petitioning Congress: The Georgia Public Policy Foundation joined a coalition of more than 20 leading state and national organizations this week in a letter calling on Congress to seize the opportunity to deliver transformative tax reform.


Getting better: Georgia’s 2017 average ACT score was higher, for the second consecutive year and the second time in state history, than the national average of 21. View the full Georgia report. Source: Georgia Department of Education

Charters and choices: Foundation Vice President Benita Dodd, a longtime champion of school choice in Georgia, has also been appointed to the board of the Georgia Charter Schools Association, where she will chair the communications committee.

Friday Flashback

This month in the archives: In September 10 years ago the Foundation published, “The Monkey Trap in Transportation Policy.” It noted, “Every earmark specifies a use and subtracts from a state’s transportation funds, and puts it out of the reach of a state Department of Transportation’s discretion. In all likelihood, that DOT has a better, higher use for those dollars in its list of priorities. Asking taxpayers for more money while playing fast and loose with state transportation policy is neither wise nor frugal government.”


Social media: The Foundation has 3,240 Facebook “likes!” Our Twitter account has 1,761 followers at Follow us on Instagram, too!

Visit to read our latest commentary, “Commonsense Recommendations for SPLOST Reform in Georgia,” by Ron Sifen and Benita Dodd.

Have a safe weekend!

Kelly McCutchen and Benita Dodd

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