January 25, 2023
(Atlanta, GA) — Following Governor Kemp’s State of the State address today, the House and Senate Democratic Caucuses issue a response countering the Governor’s impression that Georgia’s newfound progress and prosperity has been shared equally among all Georgians and outlining the Democratic Caucuses’ priorities for Georgia’s 2023 legislative session.
Leading the response at the State Capitol is Senate Minority Leader Gloria Butler and House Minority Leader James Beverly. Joining them are Senate Democratic Whip Harold Jones, House Democratic Caucus Chair Billy Mitchell, Senator Nan Orrock and Representative Sam Park.
Senate Democratic Caucus Chair Elena Parent gives the Senate Democratic Caucus’ official State of the State Response.
The Democratic Caucuses agree there is reason to be optimistic about Georgia’s future with historically low unemployment and a robust budget surplus. However, while Georgia’s economic outlook is surely positive, they push back on the notion that this prosperity has been equally felt by all Georgians. They note further that the Governor’s current budget proposal fails to address some of the critical needs of Georgians across the state.
As Leader Butler stated, “People across the state of Georgia are hurting. Two years of the COVID-19 pandemic and over a decade of budget cuts have left many, especially in rural parts of the state, without access to critically needed services like transportation, living wage jobs, broadband internet, healthcare, and quality public education. While the budget proposes some increased spending in some of these areas, it will not nearly be enough to meet the growing and pressing needs that Georgians need us to meet, right now.”
The Democratic Caucuses decry the majority’s refusal, once again, to take up affordable healthcare access and affordable healthcare coverage, House Democratic Leader James Beverly noted, “We have the resources to expand healthcare access to all Georgians and it is long overdue. Investing in our state’s health and safety is critical for building a better and safe Georgia.”
While elaborating on education needs, Senate Whip Jones said, “a $2000 pay increase for teacher is simply not enough. That comes out to just over $100 per month after taxes. Our Georgia educators have been on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic, risking their health and safety for the sake of our children, and this is how we repay them? Georgia Democrats are proposing a minimum of a $10,000 pay increase and establishing regular wage increase tables, as we have for years.”
The Democratic Caucus’ legislative agendas also outlines plans to further invest in state agencies and employees to better support and serve all Georgians, put more money in Georgia families’ pockets through tax policies that help working families and not just those who’re already economically advantaged, promote safe and affordable housing provisions, protect individuals’ right to make healthcare decisions for themselves, provide increased safety measures to stem the gun violence claiming too many young lives, protect our environment, provide clean and affordable energy, and promote increased governance transparency and accountability, both in our election cycle and everyday governance.