GBPI recently wrote the following letter to Senators Perdue and Loeffler asking them to support the HEROES act and aid Georgians in this difficult time. We need your help — please write our senators today asking them to help Georgians recover and thrive.
July 24, 2020
Dear Senator Perdue:
Georgians have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and the deepest economic downturn since the Great Depression. Infection numbers in Georgia continue to grow, and our hospitals are yet again stretched to capacity. After weeks of declining, unemployment claims are yet again rising rapidly. And our state continues to face a steep revenue shortfall spurred by layoffs, furloughs and a decrease in sales.
With hundreds of thousands of Georgians laid off or furloughed and the new spikes in COVID cases likely to slow down the reopening of businesses, many are turning to our state and federal governments for help putting food on the table and finding the money for other basic needs.
While the federal COVID laws enacted so far have provided significant assistance to many households in need, too many others—especially households with low incomes, Black and Brown Georgians and immigrants—may not have received sufficient support, if they received any at all.
At the same time, Georgia lawmakers slashed our state’s budget, enacting deep cuts to health programs and child welfare and cutting the education funding formula by nearly $1 billion. Students, workers, small business owners, public servants—every Georgian will feel the effects of these cuts. However, they will be felt most acutely by communities of color and rural Georgians.
The HEROES Act includes necessary provisions to help Georgians recover and thrive. We urge you to put Georgians first by supporting this important bill. Specifically, we urge your support of the following provisions as your Chamber negotiates the next stimulus package:
- Additional federal relief that builds on existing successful programs by continuing the expanded federal unemployment benefits that Congress has already provided;
- A temporary increase in SNAP benefit amounts;
- Expansion of the earned income and child tax credits to help families buy food and other necessities;
- An expansion of the Education Stabilization Fund to better support our K-12 public schools, colleges and universities;
- An increase in the federal matching rate for Medicaid to help our state address health care needs; and,
- The creation of an emergency fund for states to help people who are falling through the cracks and to create subsidized jobs programs when workers can participate safely. These provisions must be inclusive of all people who call Georgia home—including immigrants currently left out of critical relief efforts like recovery rebates.
Congress must also protect other critical public services—such as public education, mental health supports, public transit, and public works programs—that we all rely on. Without more aid, states, cities and towns will continue cutting these and other services that keep our communities going. That’s why states need at least $500 billion in federal aid, plus more federal funding for state Medicaid programs so states can avert cuts to vital services for seniors, families with children and people with disabilities.
If the Senate acts now, we can make sure those who have been hardest hit by the crisis can make ends meet until jobs return and the economy recovers, while also preventing future budget cuts in our state. These efforts are necessary to spur recovery in Georgia and help every family prosper.
President and CEO
Georgia Budget and Policy Institute
CC: Senator Kelly Loeffler