Interesting facts from the Georgia Public Policy Foundation-
Best for business: Forbes ranks Georgia No. 6 on its list of “Best States to Do Business.” No. 1 is North Carolina, which ranks No. 2 in the “business costs” category, followed by Texas, Utah, Nebraska and Virginia.
How is IT? Georgia ranks No. 18, best in the Southeast, in the State New Economy Index, which uses 25 indicators to measure the extent to which state economies are knowledge-based, globalized, entrepreneurial, IT-driven, and innovation-oriented. Source: Information Technology and Innovation Foundation
Popularity contest: According to North American Moving Services, the top five inbound U.S. states were Arizona, No. 1 with 67 percent of moves into the state vs. 37 percent outbound, followed by Idaho (63 percent in, 37 percent out), North Carolina (62-38 percent), South Carolina (62-38 percent) and Tennessee (58-42 percent).
Political differences: The top five inbound states mentioned above have GOP-controlled legislatures while four of the top five outbound states have Democrat-controlled legislatures. The American Enterprise Institute points out, “Since the top inbound states are relatively low-tax, business-friendly, fiscally healthy and high-growth states and the top outbound states are relatively high-tax, business-unfriendly, fiscally unhealthy and low-growth states, the difference in party control of the state legislatures is exactly what one might expect.”
Energy and environment
Renewable, not affordable: Germany crossed a symbolic milestone in its energy transition on January 1, briefly covering about 100 percent of electricity use with renewables for the first time ever. But the increase in irregular and unpredictable wind and solar power is a growing problem for Germany’s power grid. Utility company Tennet TSO, which covers about 40 percent of Germany, announced it spent almost $1.2 billion last year on emergency interventions to stabilize the national grid.
Derailed: MARTA lost its chance to make a good first impression as hundreds of fans leaving Monday night’s college football national championship game were delayed for hours at the Five Points Station. MARTA said rail car doors malfunctioned. The Streetcar, built to connect with “primary tourist venues,” was shut down for the duration, too.
Teacher salaries: Education spending comes up every year under the Gold Dome. For perspective, Georgia ranks a respectable 22nd in the nation on teacher pay, with the average annual salary of public school teachers in 2015-16 at $54,190. It could easily be increased, as Ben Scafidi pointed out in his study, “The Truth Behind the Staffing Surge in Georgia Public Schools.”
Taxes and spending
Tax reform: The $10,000 cap on deducting state and local taxes makes low-tax states with a low cost of living, like Georgia, even more desirable. According to the National Association of Realtors, just 1 percent of Georgia homeowners paid over $10,000 in real estate taxes compared to 31 percent in New Jersey, for example. Locally, people may consider moving from expensive areas like the city of Atlanta, too, creating an opportunity for suburban and rural Georgia.
Criminal justice reform
Why reform? Asked why conservatives should support criminal justice reforms, the director of the Criminal Justice Reform Project at ACUF, Pat Nolan, responded: “To my friends on the Right I would say that it is not conservative to support a huge bureaucracy that is expensive and fails over 40 percent of the time. But even more, the system destroys families, and limits the honest jobs available for offenders. That cost is too much for very little public safety.”
Second chance: The Trump administration is taking a serious look at criminal justice reform, Axios reported this week. Under the auspices of the Office of American Innovation, administration officials have met with faith-based leaders, former inmates who have been rehabilitated, conservative leaders, and experts on the issue. Follow criminal justice issues at Smart On Crime Georgia.
This month in the archives: In January 15 years ago, the Foundation published, “We Need Axes, Not Taxes.” It noted, “Why don’t we consider tolls, where practical, to pay for much needed additional highway capacity across the state?” To paraphrase Hannibal in “The A Team” from the 1980s, we love it when a plan comes together!
Foundation in the news: The Atlanta Business Chronicle quoted the Foundation’s newest Senior Fellow, Kelly McCutchen (past president of the Foundation) in an article on the Legislature’s to-do list. The Citizen published Benita Dodd’s commentary, “Technology can Trump Tough Love.”