Quotes of note
“Freethinkers are those who are willing to use their minds without prejudice and without fearing to understand things that clash with their own customs, privileges or beliefs. This state of mind is not common, but it is essential for right thinking…” – Leo Tolstoy
“Wars begin when you will, but they do not end when you please.” – Niccolo Machiavelli
“The most effective way of attacking vice is to expose it to public ridicule. People can put up with rebukes, but they cannot bear being laughed at: they are prepared to be wicked, but they dislike appearing ridiculous.” – Moliere
On Our Desks
Keep Georgia Working: Georgia is growing by leaps and bounds! New residents see what the rest of us already know and love about our state – low taxes, a vibrant business climate and plentiful job opportunities. We want to make sure all new residents know that Georgia works thanks to economic freedom, limited government and personal responsibility. Your gift will help us reach more new Georgia residents!
Flat tax analysis: Independent analysis by Georgia Policy and the Beacon Hill Institute estimates the proposal to flatten and lower Georgia’s personal income tax rate would create tens of thousands of jobs and put billions of additional dollars in taxpayers’ wallets.
At the Capitol
Broken promise: A bill that would have offered $6,000 promise scholarships to Georgia public school students failed in the Senate by a vote of 20-29.
CONned: Legislation that would have repealed the state’s Certificate of Need laws by 2025 failed to receive a vote in the House prior to Crossover Day. This effectively ends its chances for passing this session.
Raised: Gov. Brian Kemp signed an amended budget that includes raises and bonuses for state employees and a $1 billion tax refund for Georgians. The $30.2 billion midyear spending plan, which adds $3 billion in expenditures from the original budget, runs through June 30.
Hungry for change: The Georgia House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill that would allow food trucks to operate anywhere in the state with a single permit from their home county.
Bounce back? Two years after the onset of the pandemic, jobs and spending have changed in Georgia, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The number of jobs is close to pre-pandemic levels, but the mix has changed: Construction, hospitality and leisure lost jobs, while Georgia has 9% more truckers, Sandy Springs-based UPS’ revenues have skyrocketed, the Port of Savannah is booming, and warehouse space in Atlanta has increased by 16%. In the past six months, the corporate, tech, logistics and manufacturing industries strengthened their hiring numbers.
Slightly slowing: Georgia was one of 13 states with slower growth in job openings in January vs. December, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Thursday. The number of openings in January was 380,000, which was 39,000 fewer than the month before. Only California and North Carolina had larger decreases. The figure was still larger than a year earlier by 73,000.
Rising: The Federal Reserve on Wednesday raised interest rates for the first time since 2018 and telegraphed additional increases, The Wall Street Journal reported. The federal funds rate, a benchmark that affects a range of consumer borrowing rates, rose by a quarter-point to between 0.25% and 0.5%; officials indicated it could hit 2% by the end of 2022 and 2.75% by the end of 2023. The move came as inflation has hit a four-decade high of 7.9%, including 10.6% in metro Atlanta, according to federal data published last week.
Also rising: Mortgage rates were already rising prior to the Federal Reserve’s decision to raise interest rates. Freddie Mac said Thursday that rates for a 30-year fixed mortgage reached an average of 4.16%. It’s the first time since May 2019 the average rate was higher than 4%. Rates are expected to rise further after the increase in the federal funds rate. Source: Wall Street Journal
Also, also rising: Consumer demand for homes continues to rise, with Atlanta-area houses going for an average of 1.6% above list price in February, according to The Atlanta Business Chronicle. Some brokers say homes are selling at 10% or greater above list price, which indicates how low housing supply has become.
Check for ticks! The Heartland virus, a tick-borne virus first identified in Missouri in 2009, is spreading throughout Georgia. Heartland is carried by lone star ticks, which can be as small as a sesame seed or a grain of wheat.
COVID-19: The Georgia Department of Public Health reports COVID-19 cases, deaths and vaccination rates on its website here.
Visit georgiapolicy.org to read the Foundation’s latest commentary.
Have a great weekend.
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