Since the beginning of the pandemic, Georgia's primary response has been to cut funding, and most of those cuts have come at the expense of health care and public education, according to an anti-racist research and advocacy organization.

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The state now has an unprecedented amount of federal funding and a surplus of reserves, Georgia Budget and Policy Institute's senior policy analyst, Danny Kanso, said.

“Today, we have about $10 billion in cash on hand at the state level, including federal ARP (American Rescue Plan) dollars, the state surplus and the Rainy Day Fund, which has now reached its maximum level,” Kanso said. “And so it's really time to stop those budget cuts and to turn the corner and make up that lost ground.”

Much of that lost ground involved public health.

GBPI's 2022 policy priorities focus on “people-first” policies dedicated to strengthening the state's economy, such as tax proposals and changes to the income tax.

“We advocate implementing a state earned-income tax credit,” Kanso said. “And that would target low and middle income families, up to about $60,000 a year in income, with a tax credit.”

Families across the state would see a few hundred extra dollars in their pockets to help with expenses, he said. That money would also translate into Georgia's local economy and be an economic boost. Kanso said 30 other states across the country, and the federal government, offer the same program.

A full list of GBPI’s policy priorities is available here. You can read more about GBPI’s vision for statewide prosperity in its People Powered Prosperity plan.

This story comes to Stanley R. Boxer through a reporting partnership with GPB News, a non-profit newsroom covering the state of Georgia.

Ellen Eldridge is a reporter for Georgia Public Broadcasting.

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