The Georgia Budget and Policy Institute’s goal is to shine a light on people-first policies that help all Georgians equitably share in the state’s prosperity. These are the policy priorities GBPI will track during 2023. For more insights throughout Legislative Session, be sure to follow @GaBudget on Twitter or on Instagram @georgiabudget and sign up for our newsletter.
Promote State Government Transparency
Without data and state adherence to established statutes and rules for sharing information related to government activities, Georgians cannot hold elected officials accountable for their actions and decisions, and the ability of our state’s people to meaningfully participate in the legislative process is compromised.
Enhance data collection and government responsiveness
Draft and adopt uniform standards for the collection and reporting of disaggregated data on race, ethnicity, preferred language, and disability status. Standards should encompass the disaggregation and reporting of:
- State tax collections, returns and data processed by the Department of Revenue,
- State health data, such as Medicaid enrollment, to promote health justice and target resources effectively,
- Federal and state workforce force data to help the state make important decisions like providing exemptions from Temporary Assistance for Needy Families work requirements in hard-to-serve labor markets and to tailor workforce development policy to address unique needs, and
- Macro-level data on recipients of state pensions in the Teachers Retirement System and Employees Retirement System to help assess how those structures affect the recruitment and retention of teachers and educational workers of color.
Fund and support systems that help hold the state’s government accountable to follow its own rules for the effective use of existing data analysis tools such as fiscal notes that keep the press and the public apprised of legislation affecting revenues or expenditures. Boost staffing and training to ensure timely compliance with the Georgia Open Records Act and to help reduce the cost burden of obtaining information that should be publicly available to the press and all Georgians.
Assess the effects of legislation on individuals who face systemic barriers
Map and fund a process, such as that used by Massachusetts in public health for measuring the racial equity impact of policies.
Fund State Government Equitably and Responsibly
Analyze state budget proposals to ensure the result is fair and sufficiently appropriates funding for critical services and programs like health and education.
Advance fiscally responsible tax reform proposals that strengthen state revenue, protect existing revenue streams and support working families. Priorities include:
- Passing a state-level Earned Income Tax Credit, the Georgia Work Credit, which would boost take-home pay and cut taxes for families with low and middle incomes,
- Increasing the Child and Dependent Tax Credit to 100 percent of the federal level and making it fully refundable,
- Raising the tobacco tax to the national average, or $1.91, and taxing vaping and smokeless tobacco at 40 percent of the wholesale price,
- Closing loopholes and adding common-sense safeguards to strengthen the state’s corporate income tax,
- Capping the film tax credit at $100 million per year and eliminating transferability and deferred use provisions, which allow companies to use credits years later or pass them to other entities instead of using them to benefit in-state workers,
- Improving transparency in the tax code by enacting a standard review process to evaluate the effects of all tax credits and incentives issued by the state, and
- Repealing the flat tax (HB 1437) passed during the 2022 legislative session, in favor of a graduated income tax structure, in which rates increase along-side income levels.
Ensure a Foundation for Families’ Economic Security
Ensure Georgia workers do not have to choose between their job or taking time off to care for themselves or a loved one by enacting policies like paid family medical leave for public and private sector workers.
Defend Georgia’s safety net programs (including food assistance, cash assistance and unemployment insurance) from harmful budget cuts or legislative proposals that threaten an equitable economic recovery.
Ensure Equitable Education
Join the rest of the nation by creating and funding an Opportunity Weight that provides additional money to educate students living in poverty.
Shine a light on efforts to divert state dollars away from public schools through voucher programs such as Education Savings Accounts.
Increase state investment in pupil transportation, preferably through formula increases that would adjust to the real costs of transporting students.
Build Healthy Communities
Increase access to affordable health care by removing the 5-year Medicaid waiting period for pregnant women and children who are lawful permanent residents and by fully expanding Medicaid.
Mitigate the harm of the Medicaid unwinding process by ensuring DCH and DHS have the resources needed to keep eligible Georgians covered; improve transitions to other forms of coverage for those who are no longer eligible; and promote transparency through real-time data-sharing.
Address continued behavioral health staffing shortages and turnover through salary adjustments for critical positions.
Establish a system of accountability and community-led decision-making for Georgia’s opioid settlement funding.
Strengthen Supports for Workers
Lower financial barriers to college success in a way that reduces racial, ethnic and income disparities and builds upon 2022 momentum to advance state need-based aid.
Remove barriers to high-quality, short-term training opportunities for adults with low incomes seeking meaningful, living-wage jobs.
Increase the state minimum wage to meet a livable standard of pay and tie it to equitably meet inflation growth over time.
Empower Immigrant Communities
Support tuition equity legislation that expands access to higher education for undocumented students in Georgia.
Advocate for the expansion of access to driver’s licenses for all Georgians regardless of legal status.
Expand language access through multilingual communications that reflect the diversity and richness of Georgia’s immigrant communities.
Ensure that state policies are inclusive of the immigrant community.
Create a Fairer Criminal Legal System
Increase safeguards against unpayable fines and fees to protect Georgians experiencing poverty from being punished or criminalized due to lack of economic resources.
1 thought on “2023 Policy Priorities”
I agree with all the GBPI policy priorities. I recommend adding one for a strong effort to take full advantage of the program opportunities in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). These new laws offer a broad spectrum of funding assistance to begin to address climate change, improve air quality and health, create green jobs, and reduce costs of electricity. The opportunities could assist efforts to transition to clean energy and environmental sustainability by state and local governments, utilities, businesses, non-profits, as well as families and individuals. I am concerned that perhaps Georgia and local governments do not have the capacity to take full advantage of these opportunities. I would like to know if there are any barriers to implementing the programs under these Federal laws due to Georgia statute or regulation. Would you have any recommendations about action the legislature, Governor, or state agencies should take to address any barriers? Thank you.