Monday, November 20, 2017

2017 Policy Priorities

The Georgia Budget and Policy Institute works to build a more inclusive economy so that everyone can participate and thrive. We believe Georgia can be a state where everyone has a chance at a decent job so they can raise a family, can go to a doctor when they get sick and attend great public schools. Our goal is to shine a light on policies that help all Georgians share in the state’s prosperity. Here are GBPI’s current policy priorities.

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Invest Resources Needed to Ensure Success of All Georgia’s Students

A new school funding formula proposed by Gov. Nathan Deal’s Education Reform Commission does not meet students’ learning needs. It is not based on a cost assessment of educating all students to the academic goals the state has set for them. It lacks an inflation adjustment so state funding won’t keep pace with routine cost increases. The proposed formula cuts the number of students identified as economically disadvantaged nearly in half and allots too little money to meet the extra challenges they frequently face. It also overlooks the variations in districts’ student transportation costs and locks in the current underfunding of transportation. Legislators should address these flaws before approving the commission’s proposal.

Read more about adequately funding Georgia’s public schools.

Lunch Cafeteria

Extend Access to Affordable Health Care in Georgia

Georgia is home to the second worst uninsured rate in the country with about 500,000 Georgians lacking access to affordable health care. Georgia’s health care system faces a worsening budget crunch. Rural hospitals in particular are already straining to provide uncompensated care to the uninsured. Extending health insurance would throw a vital lifeline to struggling rural hospitals.

Health Eye Exam

Adopt a Georgia Work Credit to Give Bottom-up Tax Cut to More Than a Million Georgia Families

A Georgia Work Credit would provide a modest, bottom-up tax cut for low-wage workers while boosting local economies across the state. The credit, based on the successful federal Earned Income Tax Credit, is available only to people who work. The benefit grows as wages rise, encouraging people to work more hours rather than rely on public assistance to make ends meet. Nearly 1.1 million Georgia households would be eligible for a Georgia Work Credit.

For a detailed explanation of how the credit works see A Bottom-Up Tax Cut to Build Georgia’s Middle Class. Help raise awareness about the benefits of a Georgia Work Credit at GeorgiaWorkCredit.org.

EITC Family

Unlock Earning Potential of Low-income Families Through Child Care Assistance

The state budget that took effect July 1, 2016 is $103 million short of what’s needed to implement Georgia’s 2016 child care plans. A proposal approved by federal regulators last spring includes increased income eligibility limits, lowered family co-payments and higher payments to child care providers.

Because the expected cost to implement Georgia’s new child care plan exceeded the budget for the year, the state implemented funding restrictions in August 2016. The funding restrictions prevent any new families from accessing the child care subsidy program, unless they fit within narrow priority categories. To reverse these restrictions and increase access to quality child care, Georgia officials will need to increase the total allocation for the program.

For more information on the benefits of child care assistance, Child Care Assistance: Georgia’s Opportunity to Bolster Working Families, Economy. And for details about child care funding challenges, see Help Needed to Meet Georgia’s Laudable Child Care Goals.

mother-and-baby

Make Higher Education More Affordable to Achieve Georgia’s Ambitious Postsecondary Goals

Completing a postsecondary program is more important than ever for a student’s future well-being and the state’s economic growth. But rising costs are combining with shrinking access to Georgia’s financial aid programs to push higher education out of reach for too many students, especially those from low-income families. Georgia should an enhanced approach to financial aid that ensures students from all backgrounds, regardless of race, ethnicity, age or family income, can gain the benefits of a college degree.

For more information, see Gaps in Hope Point to Need-based Aid.