Budget Cuts: Shortsighted Tax Breaks, Passing Along the Pain to Vulnerable Georgians

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3 mins read

Call Governor Kemp, Speaker Ralston, House Majority Leader Burns, Chair of Appropriations Committee Terry England, and the Chairs of Appropriations Subcommittees This link will lead you to a list of contacts for this call to action.

“Please let the Speaker/Leader/Chair know that I oppose budget cuts that will affect the most vulnerable Georgians. The proposed cuts are too deep for an already stressed system, and endanger the lives of rural Georgians, children, low-income families, Georgians with disabilities, and those who need access to mental health care. 

I also understand that Speaker Ralston would like to institute another tax cut. I am opposed to this – any new tax cut and the one last year only helped wealthier Georgians. I am in favor of all Georgians paying their fair share of taxes.”

An Explanation on the Budget: 

The budget shortfall is due, in part, to a cut in the top state income tax rate adopted in 2018.  While the proposed budget includes draconian cuts for many agencies (summarized below), the rate of payment to private prisons will increase.  Funding for prosecutor’s offices would increase, with public defender funds cut by the same amount.  Impacts to some of Georgia’s most vulnerable citizens (foster children, those with mental health disorders, seniors) are seen throughout the proposed budget. 

The Georgia Budget and Policy Institute has been following the proposed budget cuts closely and has released a series of overviews for certain state agency budgets. These cuts could affect low-income families, rural Georgians, children, Georgians with disabilities and those who need access to mental health care.

Some key proposed changes to the budget are below. 

Overview: Although the state has called for deep budget cuts, there is still new spending in the budget, driven by growth in enrollment for programs for programs such as Medicaid and K-12 education, as well as Gov. Kemp’s call to increase annual pay for certified educators by $2,000.

Department of Corrections: The Georgia Department of Corrections, which oversees the state’s prison system, is facing a $54.3 million cut in FY 2021. These cuts affect GED testing and vocational certifications, inmate transportation and hiring freezes. Commissary prices were increased and the funding allocated to commissary products decreased. These changes will largely affect Black Georgians, who are over-incarcerated due to bias in the judicial system and historic disinvestment in their communities.  Department of Human Services: Gov. Brian Kemp’s proposed $800 million Department of Human Services budget for the 2021 fiscal year includes cuts to critical programs that support Georgia’s foster care system and help ensure the safety and protection of Georgia’s most vulnerable children; the total budget is a $28.8 million decrease from the original 2020 budget.

Originally posted at the Indivisible Georgia Coalition. Re-posted with permission.


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