Then and Now: In 1991, when the Georgia Public Policy Foundation was established, state government operated a tourist train, hotels, conference centers, golf courses and water parks, which caused us to ask in a commentary, “Can Russia Teach Georgia About Free Enterprise?”
Quotes of Note
“I applaud Georgia, and Governor Nathan Deal, for demonstrating that making our criminal justice system more fair is a bipartisan idea. Georgia’s latest reform bill touches on school discipline, correctional education for youth, the accuracy of criminal records, fees and fines, and occupational licensing. From the community to the cell block to the courtroom, this bill will both enhance justice and promote safety, serving as an example for the nation.” – President Barack Obama
“The [Georgia Public Policy] Foundation’s Criminal Justice Initiative pushed the problems to the forefront, proposed practical solutions, brought in leaders from other states to share examples, and created this nonpartisan opportunity.” – Governor Nathan Deal
“The administration’s contention that climate change is a national-security threat would be just another example of mindlessly applied political correctness if it were not for the potential impact of this silliness on our actual security.” – Robert H. Scales, retired U.S. Army major general
Not yet big enough to fail I: On April 18, the Atlanta City Council applied for a $500 million federal grant for a 7.2 mile extension of the Atlanta Streetcar line, WSBTV reported. That same week, Streetcar ridership was reported to have plummeted 48 percent in the first three months compared with the same period last year. In January and March, it was down a whopping 62 percent. A $1 fare for the 2.7-mile loop took effect January 1.
Not yet big enough to fail II: The 500 bicycles in Seattle’s bicycle-sharing program averaged less than one user per bike per day during its first year. The transportation chief is under scrutiny for potential conflict of interest over the program. The City Council voted in March to spend $1.4 million to buy the 16-month-old program. The city, which paid $305,000 recently to help the money-losing nonprofit service, may be considering a $5 million expansion. Source: Seattle Times
Not worth it: The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority and its affiliates quit the American Public Transit Association, essentially informing APTA in a letter that the association was wasting its time and money. Source: Antiplanner.org
Perspective: The average amount of annual in-state tuition and fees at Georgia’s public four-year universities has increased more than all but one state over the last five years, but the average amount of tuition and fees, $8,447, ranks below the national average at 31st. Net tuition revenue per student (tuition after scholarships and other grants) is $4,468, ranking Georgia 41st highest in the nation. Source: College Board
Disconnect: Fifty years ago, Americans paid nearly half of their health spending out of pocket. Today, they pay 11 percent, and only 3 percent for hospital bills. Because they rely on insurance and government health plans to pay most of their bills, they have no idea what a product or procedure actually costs, Grace-Marie Turner writes in Forbes.
Do the math: Enrollees in ObamaCare exchanges often pay $500 or more a month for premiums for policies with deductibles of $3,000-$6,000. That can mean spending $12,000 a year before insurance kicks in. The penalty for being uninsured, meanwhile, is just 2.5 percent of your household income or $695 per adult, whichever is higher.
Criminal justice reform
Why reform? National Reentry Week is April 24-30. Helping ex-inmates lead productive lives is important: Fewer than one in four ex-offenders manage to stay out of trouble in their first years back in society, according to a 2014 Justice Department study, which found the younger the offender, the more likely he or she is to have another run-in with the law after release from state custody. Source: AEI.org
Forfeiture: A Washington Post report on civil asset forfeiture detailed how police seized $53,000 from a Christian band, an orphanage and a church, despite no criminal convictions. A Georgia bill to restrict “policing for profit” failed in the Legislature in 2016.
This month in the archives: In April 2006, the Foundation published, “Private Sector Role Doesn’t Mean Streets Paved with ‘Sold.’” It noted, “When they involve time-of-day pricing, tolls reduce congestion by encouraging commuters to choose routes based on the value of their trip and time. To borrow the analogy of one transportation expert, if stores priced filet mignon and ground beef the same, imagine the run on filet mignon.”
Foundation in the News: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution quoted Kelly McCutchen in support of allowing former drug offenders to obtain food stamps: “I do believe that if people have served their sentence, they should be able to re-integrate into society.”
Social media: This week, the Foundation has 2,900 Facebook “likes” and 1,594 Twitter followers at twitter.com/gppf. Follow us on Instagram, too!
Visit georgiapolicy.org to read our latest commentary, “Flint’s Water ‘Crisis’ Hides the Blessing” by Harold Brown.
Have a great weekend!
Kelly McCutchen and Benita Dodd
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