Letter Urges Governor to Restore Budget Cuts, Deploy Revenue Shortfall Reserve

 

 

Dear Governor Kemp,

The proposed budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 includes $1.2 billion in continued cuts from FY 2020 state spending to programs and services across Georgia. At a time when millions of families are experiencing greater needs due to the pandemic, this budget would underfund Georgia’s schools, services for Georgians with disabilities, anti-poverty programs, public safety and more.

Georgians need more support from the state, especially after budget cuts of approximately $1.7 billion are expected to be implemented during the 2021 fiscal year. An equitable economic recovery is important for every Georgian and critical for the state’s future. These budget cuts and policy choices put Georgia’s future at risk.

This budget represents a choice to underfund state government at a critical time when Georgians are relying on our state for support. This is not the best path forward, and we know there are options to help Georgia restore funding to vital services and programs, address COVID-19 and foster prosperity in every community.

While we continue to advocate for increased federal relief, there are clear options you and other state leaders can pursue to help eliminate these budget cuts.

We must deploy funds from the state’s Revenue Shortfall Reserve (RSR). This rainy-day fund, which was created to allow our state to avoid steep budget cuts in the event of an economic downturn, currently holds $2.7 billion, with $1.685 billion available to be released for appropriation at any time. Although the COVID-19 recession has been among the most devastating economic and social events in history, Georgia has deviated from prior responses to economic recessions by choosing to make billions in cuts alone without drawing from the state’s near-record-level rainy-day fund to supplement revenue shortfalls. If now is not the time to tap into these reserves, then when is?

State services like K-12 education, public health and behavioral health services have been underfunded since the Great Recession, and in this latest budget proposal, Georgia would spend $100 less per person than it did in 2008. While the option to use funding from our state’s robust RSR will not address the long-term effects of COVID-19 or the chronic underfunding of education, health and other critical services, it can provide immediate funding to reduce or eliminate budget cuts. You can also urge lawmakers to raise new revenues in order to ensure long-term recovery.

We also know these budget cuts continue to have a disproportionate effect on rural communities and on Georgians of color. When we look at underlying numbers among unemployment rates, we see that Black Georgians are facing greater hardship. These communities cannot recover during continued budget cuts.

The best way to fully recovery from this pandemic is to invest in the programs and services Georgians rely on and put people first. We cannot cut our way to prosperity.

We urge you to put the needs of Georgians first with the consideration of these policy options that would help eliminate harmful budget cuts and mitigate the harm of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic on every Georgia community.

 

Sincerely,

9to5

Achieve Atlanta

ACLU of Georgia

Agnes Scott College

Alcohol & Drug Abuse Certification Board of Georgia (ADACBGA)

Alliance Recovery Center, Inc.

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Georgia Chapter

Ann Duffy

Atlanta Center for Self Sufficiency

Atlanta Wealth Building Initiative

Beyond The Bell (Savannah)

Brooks County NAACP Branch #5173

Center for Pan Asian Community Services

Center for Racial Healing

CivicGeorgia

Coalición de Líderes Latinos-CLILA

Coalition of Refugee Service Agencies

Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta

Community Farmers Markets

Corners Outreach

Deep Center

Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

Eddie Bogan

Elysian Community Development Corporation

Emmaus House

Faith in Public Life

Gateway Center

Gateway Treatment Centers

Georgia Black Constructors Association

Georgia Budget and Policy Institute

Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda

Georgia Conservation Voters

Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities

Georgia Equality

Georgia Hispanic Construction Association

Georgia Interfaith Public Policy Center

Georgia NAACP

Georgia Organics

Georgia Shift Action

Georgia State AFL-CIO

Georgia Supportive Housing Association, Inc.

Georgia WAND

Georgia Women (and Those Who Stand With Us)

Georgia Working Families Party

Georgians for a Healthy Future

Glenda Minkin

Harambee House, Inc.

Hosea Helps, Inc.

Indivisible Georgia Coalition

Jewish Community Relations Council

Jewish Democratic Women’s Salon

Lois Frank

Mercy Care

New Georgia Project Action Fund

New Sanctuary Movement of Atlanta

New Vision MSK

Norelie Garcia Valentin

Park Place Outreach

Partnership for Southern Equity

Poder Latinx

Presbyterians for a Better Georgia

Howard Dobbs, Jr. Foundation

Rep GA Institute, Inc.

Step Up Savannah

STRIVE Atlanta

The Latin American Association

The National Domestics Workers Alliance – We Dream In Black

The New Georgia Project

The People’s Agenda – Savannah

The Scholarship Academy

Tom Boller

United Campus Workers of Georgia, Communications Workers of America

Women Watch Afrika, Inc.

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