Insights Policy Conference 2018

Registration for GBPI’s Insights 2019: 15 Forward Policy Conference is now available.

A sold-out crowd of more than 200 people at Georgia Tech’s Global Learning Center applauded the unveiling of a bold new $1 billion vision for Georgia, a people-first strategy to deliver a stronger and more inclusive economy.

Called “People-Powered Prosperity,” the blueprint details how an investment of that size in educated youth, skilled workers, thriving families and healthy communities is as solid as existing state set asides for transportation maintenance or proposed economic development incentives.

“We have to do something transformative in this state to change the outcomes,” said Georgia Budget and Policy Institute Executive Director Taifa Butler as she gave the plan its first public airing at the conference. “We tout that we are the No. 1 place to do business. It is time for a people-first agenda.”

The Insights 2018 Policy Conference debut of the eight-point plan highlighted a day when GBPI also delivered its signature state budget analysis of Georgia’s proposed 2019 spending plan. Lawmakers, educators and health care experts helped fill the daylong conference with fact-packed panel discussions and even newsy revelations.

Medicaid expansion legislation might be introduced as soon as next week, according to Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, who served on the legislative panel with Rep. Sam Park. He noted it might contemplate a work requirement, while questioning the reasoning behind that.

“This [newly covered] population is in the 100 to 138 percent of poverty range and they are working already,” Huffstetler said. “I will try to tell my colleagues about that.”

Recent federal tax changes might create a revenue windfall for the state treasury and bite many Georgians in wallet at tax time, he said. State estimates to that effect became big news before the conference adjourned for the afternoon.

Keynote speaker Manuel Pastor painted a portrait of a Georgia going through a major demographic shift with a data-driven presentation peppered with a generous portion of humor.

The average age of Georgia’s white population is 45, while the average age for Latinos is 28, he said, explaining what he called the “racial generation gap.”

“When you are 28 you are in prime family formation age,” he said. “When you are 45, you think you are in prime family formation age.”

He introduced discussion of his data-based demographic book “Equity, Growth and Community” as “about to be made into a major motion picture.” Pastor, also shared weightier issues about growing income inequality, racial segregation, and offered parting counsel to Georgia that our solutions need to have “equity and inclusion baked in and not sprinkled on.”

Tom Boller kicked off his first policy conference as board chair by outlining GBPI’s 2018 legislative priorities:

  • Create a state-level version of the federal Earned Income Tax Credit, or Georgia Work Credit
  • Expand Medicaid to close the health care coverage gap for 240,000 Georgians
  • End the seven-year term limit on HOPE program to accommodate college students over 25

Research Director Wesley Tharpe headed up the morning’s overview of Georgia’s 2019 state budget, a longtime feature of the annual conference. Butler provided subject-area expertise on human services, Laura Harker on health care, Jennifer Lee on higher education and Claire Suggs on K-12 education.

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