Women Working Ahead: In Your Words

GBPI’s Women Working Ahead event last Friday featured two powerful keynotes, a dynamic group of panelists and expert policy insights to present an economic opportunity agenda for women in Georgia. More than that, the forum featured you: Georgians who believe our state is stronger when women receive equal pay, opportunity and support. The sold-out crowd generated an electric atmosphere throughout the event as the four policy pillars of the opportunity agenda were unveiled and explored. Twitter lit up as #WomenWorkingAhead and @GaBudget trended during the discussion.

In the spirit of working together to help #WomenWorkingAhead, we wanted recap the four key policy pillars from the agenda while highlighting the insights from supporters who shared their views proudly from off the stage.

Close Georgia’s Coverage Gap by Expanding Medicaid

Expanding eligibility for Medicaid could close Georgia’s coverage gap and extend health insurance to more than 300,000 uninsured adults in Georgia with incomes at or near the poverty line, including more than 155,000 women.

Uninsured Georgians with incomes below the poverty level are particularly affected by Georgia’s refusal to expand Medicaid eligibility. These are people stuck in a coverage gap as their income is too high to qualify under Georgia’s strict Medicaid eligibility rules, yet make too little to qualify for financial assistance under the federal health insurance marketplace.

Fortunately, change may be in the air.

Cindy Zeldin, Executive Director of Georgians for a Healthy Future, explains how increasing health coverage for Georgia women is a smart investment. She highlights the unique opportunity for advocates to influence state policy as momentum grows for expanding Medicaid.

Expand Child Care Assistance

Improved child care assistance can help close the gender earnings gap by helping women balance disproportionate caregiving responsibility for children. Women are far more likely than men in Georgia to work part-time because of family care obligations, and the responsibility for unpaid caregiving also forces some women to temporarily exit the workforce entirely.

Helping parents with the high costs of child care strengthens today’s workforce by helping low-income working parents become better workers and giving a boost to unemployed parents working to join the ranks of the employed.

Mindy Binderman, Executive Director of the Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students, explains why child care assistance is critical for Georgia moms and all Georgians.

Enact the Georgia Work Credit, a state Earned Income Tax Credit

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) cuts federal taxes and provides a modest wage enhancement for low-wage workers—predominately women. The credit, available only to people who work, grows as wages rise. That dynamic encourages people to stay employed and work more hours, rather than rely on public assistance to make ends meet. Nearly 1.1 million Georgia households, or 28 percent of all Georgia income tax filers received the federal EITC in 2013.

Twenty-six states and the District of Columbia have built on the federal EITC’s success with their own state-level versions of the tax credit. Georgia has that opportunity as well by adopting a state EITC, or Georgia Work Credit, which would provide a hand up for 900,000 women in Georgia paid low wages, over half of whom are the sole or primary earner for their family.

Kyle Waide, President and CEO of the Atlanta Community Food Bank, outlines why the Georgia Work Credit is such an important state policy priority to help Georgia families struggling to make ends meet.

Raise the state minimum wage

Raising Georgia’s minimum wage to $10.10, phased in over a period of three years, can help close the gender earnings gap, increase incomes of women workers and likely funnel millions of dollars back into the economy. A $10.10 minimum wage can raise wages for nearly a half-million women in Georgia and put $342 million more into their hands and local economies.

City of Clarkston Mayor Ted Terry explains why raising the minimum wage is important for retaining great employees and helping them afford basic necessities.

Women Working Ahead

Georgia leaves behind more than $14.4 billion in potential additional household income for its residents because women are not earning the same amount of money as men in the state. This missing money is critical to Georgia’s future since women are responsible for bringing in at least 40 percent of family earnings in more than half of the state’s families with children. Leveling the pay gap can also cut poverty for Georgia women by as much as half, providing a powerful boost to both working women and their families.

Georgia can and must remove barriers that stand between women and equal earnings.

Georgia can make concrete policy decisions to expand opportunity, close the gender earnings gap and boost the state’s economy. The entire state economy stands to gain.

Thank you for lending your voice to this cause. Let’s endeavor together to ensure that women continue working ahead in Georgia.

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