Quotes of note
“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” -Albert Einstein
“If a nation values anything more than freedom, it will lose its freedom, and the irony of it is that if it is comfort or money that it values more, it will lose that too.” -W. Somerset Maugham
“The Party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.” -George Orwell
On Our Desks
Poll position: In his weekly column, Kyle Wingfield looks at the data after recent redistricting to consider whether Georgians will see a difference at the polls this year.
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!
At the Capitol
Surplus: Gov. Brian Kemp signed legislation to use more than $1 billion in state surplus funds to provide an income tax refund this year. Single filers would receive a $250 refund when they file their taxes, while joint filers would receive a $500 refund. The refunds would go to those who filed returns for the tax years 2020 and 2021, and the money would be available in six to eight weeks. Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution
More on refunds: At least 30 Georgia legislators are asking the state Department of Labor to stop garnishing the Georgia income tax refunds of people who have unresolved appeals regarding possible overpayment of Unemployment Insurance benefits, reports The Center Square. Their concern is the lack of due process and the presumption of guilt, according to Georgia Rep. Victor Anderson (R-Cornelia).
Mental health: The Senate Health and Human Services Mental Health Parity Subcommittee continued its hearings for the mental health omnibus bill that was voted out of the House earlier this session. A vote has not yet been taken to advance the bill out of committee.
Lights, camera… The Georgia House of Representatives has passed a bill that would increase existing tax credits for musical and theatrical performances and lower the spending threshold for both performances and recordings, reports The Center Square. Kennesaw State University economist J.C. Bradbury, however, opposes the measure, saying it “represents bad public policy.”
Pain relief: Gas prices in Georgia are slowly starting to come down. Georgia averaged 13 cents less than the national average. Gov. Kemp recently suspended the state’s gas tax, which sits around 29 cents a gallon. Source: Fox 5 Atlanta
COVID relief? Athens-Clarke County commissioners this month, by a 6-4 vote, approved a plan to spend $40 million in American Rescue Plan funds — meant for COVID-19 relief — on affordable housing, youth development, violence prevention and homelessness, among other uses, the Athens Banner Herald reported. The funds must be committed to be spent before Dec. 31, 2024
No relief: Atlanta is the fourth-worst city in the United States for minimum wage earners, according to Move.org, which covers the moving industry. The report cited high rent prices, saying it would take a minimum wage earner 178.34 hours just to afford a month’s average rent for a one-bedroom apartment. The worst city for minimum wage earners was Honolulu, Hawaii. The best city to live in with a minimum wage job was Cleveland, Ohio.
Higher and higher: The affordability of metro Atlanta, historically enviable compared to large metro areas in the North and West, is being threatened by the rise in home prices, reports The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The cost of a home in the Atlanta area has increased by 24.6% in the last year, and entry-level homes are affected the most, with only about 13% of homes on the market below the median price of $361,454. By contrast, personal income has gone up less than 6%. In addition, rental prices have risen by 17% over this time last year.
Astronomical: Out of the entire Atlanta metro area, Clayton County boasts the hottest home prices, according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Locations like Forest Park and Riverdale have appreciated more than 60% since 2020.
Visit georgiapolicy.org to read the Foundation’s latest commentary, Georgia Income Tax Reform Would Improve Standing Among Neighbors, Country.
Have a great weekend.
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