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