The Georgia Budget and Policy Institute recently sent a letter to Georgia’s U.S. representatives and senators to urge them to support the provisions that are already included in the American Families Plan and American Jobs Plan as well as a few additional provisions that would help build a quicker, more equitable recovery. You can read this letter below.
Dear Georgia Delegation,
I am writing on behalf of the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute (GBPI), a nonpartisan nonprofit that advances lasting solutions to expand economic opportunity and well-being for all Georgians, to ask for your support of the provisions included in the American Families Plan and American Jobs Plan. Put together, these proposals will help address inequities faced by people of color and women, jumpstart recovery in Georgia and then shepherd in a new era of prosperity for all. By supporting the provisions proposed and looking for other opportunities to advance economic justice—like raising the minimum wage—lawmakers can help foster resiliency and opportunity for Georgia families.
Recovery Plans Are Strong Step Toward Recovery
Every provision is a strong step toward long-term recovery. GBPI particularly hopes our Georgia delegation will recognize the importance of closing the coverage gap, as about 270,000 Georgians make too much to qualify for Medicaid and not enough to get premium tax credits on healthcare.gov; improving Unemployment Insurance (UI); supporting college affordability and access via support for increased Pell Grants, support for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and other Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs); making the two-year increase in premium tax credits from the American Rescue Plan permanent to make marketplace coverage more affordable; improving child nutrition via the permanent creation of a P-EBT program; implementing paid family and medical leave; temporarily expanding the Child Tax Credit (CTC), permanently expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) to support the wellbeing of over 600,000 workers with low wages who are not raising children; and improving child care infrastructure and subsidies
Opportunities to Improve Exist
Although the plan is strong, there are opportunities for you and your colleagues to better maximize the benefits of the proposals. As Congress decides how best to improve UI, please account for inequities in hiring that may leave women and workers of color—particularly women of color—out of recovery. Although many industries are starting to hire again, in April, unemployment claims rose by 11 percent for women while declining by 2 percent for men. In that same month, unemployment claims for Black Georgians were 35 percent higher than those of all other filers and 54 percent higher than those of white Georgians alone. Any policy that does not address these inequities will not allow for true and equitable long-term recovery.
Congress must also act to ensure that every state provides adequate benefits to help workers who are unemployed. In spite of the above inequities, Georgia has joined several other states in ending their distribution of federal UI benefits—all while workers continue to face low wages, health risks and trouble finding child care. Our Congressional delegation should also support the provisions for universal pre-school, child care subsidies and improved child care infrastructure to help mitigate this issue.
When looking at opportunities to close the coverage gap, please consider ways to further incentivize states like Georgia to fully expand Medicaid. Georgia is one of only 14 states to have not fully expanded Medicaid, even though expansion would help every community, improve rural health care access, create jobs and draw down critical federal dollars to help our state better fund other priorities. COVID-19 has underscored our state’s weak health care infrastructure, yet Georgia leaders continue to refuse this clear opportunity to improve health outcomes.
There is also an opportunity to boost access to affordable housing in our state. The plans call for affordable housing units to be built and restructured, but, although the President’s budget proposes an additional 200,000 vouchers for next year (a nearly 10 percent increase in the total vouchers available nationwide), the American Families & Jobs Plans do not provide the multiyear, guaranteed funding to expand housing vouchers that is needed to build a more equitable economy and make progress toward making housing vouchers available to everyone who is eligible. If we are going to improve the supply of affordable housing, we also need to make sure there are tenants.
Finally, lawmakers should look to make the Child Tax Credit expansion permanent. This would cut childhood poverty in half and help improve children’s health and economic outcomes.
Lawmakers Should Rebalance Tax Code
This bold economic transformation can only be realized if Congress takes steps to rebalance the federal tax code to raise revenues. The revenue options proposed in the American Families Plan would help ensure corporations and the wealthy pay their fair share so that prosperity can be within reach for all.
Thank you for the work you do to support Georgians. Please do not hesitate to reach out if you have questions about these priorities or any other provisions in the recovery plans.
President & CEO