Policy Wins Help Strengthen Georgia’s Families and Economy

Posted November 8, 2018
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Hands joining together

In Jan­u­ary 2018, the non­prof­it Geor­gia Bud­get and Pol­i­cy Insti­tute (GBPI) released an ambi­tious $1 bil­lion invest­ment plan for the state of Georgia.

Called Peo­ple-Pow­ered Pros­per­i­ty, the plan pro­motes putting peo­ple first to cre­ate a stronger, fair­er econ­o­my. It out­lines four strate­gic goals for the state — edu­cat­ed youth, skilled work­ers, thriv­ing fam­i­lies and healthy com­mu­ni­ties — and rec­om­mends pol­i­cy changes to achieve these goals.

And, so far, the plan is working.

With sup­port from the Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion, GBPI has helped to secure key leg­isla­tive changes that will strength­en the state’s work­force and cre­ate more equi­table oppor­tu­ni­ties for chil­dren and families.

The plan’s rec­om­men­da­tions include:

  • updat­ing the state’s K‑12 fund­ing for­mu­la to meet more rig­or­ous edu­ca­tion standards;
  • empow­er­ing school dis­tricts to make invest­ments that will improve stu­dent suc­cess — espe­cial­ly in high-need schools;
  • expand­ing aid options to make uni­ver­si­ty edu­ca­tion more afford­able and tech­ni­cal col­lege tuition-free;
  • increas­ing funds for adult basic edu­ca­tion, lan­guage-lit­er­a­cy and skills-train­ing programs;
  • help­ing more work­ing par­ents afford child care;
  • enact­ing a Geor­gia Work Credit;
  • expand­ing Med­ic­aid; and
  • invest­ing in men­tal health and sub­stance abuse treatment.

Geor­gia fares bet­ter when the state has an econ­o­my that works for every­one,” says Taifa Smith But­ler, exec­u­tive direc­tor of GBPI. Invest­ing in human cap­i­tal is the state’s great­est way to bol­ster Georgia’s econ­o­my and ensure broad-based pros­per­i­ty for everyone.”

Dur­ing the state’s 40-day leg­isla­tive ses­sion, GBPI and its part­ners suc­cess­ful­ly advanced many com­po­nents of the Peo­ple-Pow­ered Pros­per­i­ty agen­da through pol­i­cy­mak­er and vot­er edu­ca­tion campaigns.

Among the promis­ing shifts:

  • Gov. Nathan Deal signed a bill to estab­lish the state’s first need-based col­lege finan­cial aid program.
  • For the first time in 16 years, leg­is­la­tors agreed to ful­ly fund Georgia’s own K‑12 edu­ca­tion formula.
  • Pol­i­cy­mak­ers agreed to include $15 mil­lion in bonds to replace old school bus­es, $1.5 mil­lion for a statewide lead­er­ship acad­e­my for prin­ci­pals in high-need schools and more than $4 mil­lion for sub­stance abuse recov­ery pro­grams in the state’s 2019 fis­cal budget.

GBPI’s work has been — and will con­tin­ue to be — instru­men­tal in ensur­ing that all Geor­gians are able to con­tribute to, and ben­e­fit from, a thriv­ing econ­o­my,” says Janelle Williams, a senior asso­ciate work­ing in the Foundation’s Atlanta Civic Site. In a state where a quar­ter of African-Amer­i­can fam­i­lies strug­gle to make ends meet, we sim­ply must do things dif­fer­ent­ly. Peo­ple-Pow­ered Pros­per­i­ty can help us devel­op a vibrant econ­o­my built on inclu­sive strate­gies that strength­en res­i­dents’ tal­ents and also har­ness their inno­v­a­tive thinking.”

Learn more about Peo­ple-Pow­ered Prosperity

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