Tax Reform, Better Schools, Justice Reform, Driverless cars

From the Georgia Public Policy Foundation

Taxes and spending

Taxing the rich? At least 3 million American workers are benefiting from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, according to Americans for Tax Reform, which has compiled a list of the more than 250 companies announcing bonuses, wage and salary hikes and 401(k) match increases since the tax reforms were enacted. Among the Georgia-based companies are Aflac and Home Depot, AR-15 Gun Owners of America, Carl Black Automotive Group and Synovus.

What’s in your wallet? To find out what tax reform will do to your paycheck, read the IRS publication here and find out more here once the IRS calculator is updated.


School Choice Week: This week, more than 32,000 events celebrated school choice, including a Leadership Breakfast hosted by the Foundation. Education expert and Senior Fellow Dr. Ben Scafidi unveiled his landmark study on universal school choice for Georgia’s K-12 students that could begin as soon as 2020. View the event here.

Kudos: Middle Georgia, Georgia Southwestern, Albany and Valdosta state universities all made the top 10 in the 2018 Most Affordable Online Colleges and Degrees list by SR Education Group released this week. Meanwhile, Kennesaw State University ranks No. 19 on U.S. News & World Report’s Best Online MBA Programs in 2018.

Mastering degrees: American universities awarded about 760,000 master’s degrees during the 2014-15 academic year. The master’s degree is being called the new bachelor’s degree, but more needs to be done to analyze the value to students in their field of study, to states and to taxpayers, according to a new study published by the American Enterprise Institute.

Criminal justice reform

Changing numbers: The number of African-Americans sent to state prisons in Georgia has declined by 30 percent in the past eight years, thanks to the state’s historic criminal justice reforms, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. Accountability courts for non-violent offenders are making a difference. Governor Nathan Deal has credited the Foundation for its role, noting:

The 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.

Time served: Over the past decade, the nation’s imprisonment rate has fallen by more than 10 percent, Grant Duwe of the American Enterprise Institute writes in, “A Better Way to Reform Prisons.” He proposes further reductions through effective programs that decrease known risk factors for re-offending. Examples include substance abuse treatment, cognitive-behavioral therapy, sex offender treatment, and education and employment programs.

Health care

Affordable care: Florida legislators debated bills this week that would repeal certificate of need requirements and facilitate direct primary care. Similar legislation in Georgia, held over from last year, awaits action in the Georgia House.

Other people’s money: While health care spending depends on price and service use, substantial hikes in health care spending between 2012 and 2016 were mainly due to price increases, according to a recent Health Care Cost Institute report, which found “particularly large increases in spending and price for administered drugs, emergency room (ER) visits, and surgical hospital admissions.”

Dr. Ben Scafidi unveiled his study on educational choice in Georgia at the Foundation’s National School Choice Week celebration on Tuesday.

Innovation: The transit authority in Jacksonville, Fla., plans a shuttle service using shared autonomous vehicles to replace its underused Skyway monorail service. Meanwhile, planners in DenverSeattle and Milwaukee are considering adding special lanes for driverless vehicles on their interstates. Read the Foundation’s proposal, “Transit’s Future is in Innovation, Not in Trains.”

Ride-share inroadsMetro magazine takes a comprehensive look at the game-changing ride-hailing and ride-sharing services, including Lyft and Uber, that are meeting the needs of commuters and reducing operating costs for public transportation. Read more here.