It is an off year election cycle. What does that mean to Georgia voters? Well, it should mean that it is a critical election year. All our statewide offices are up this year from Governor to Public Service Commissioner. All of the business of the state will be decided, led and conducted by the winners of the November election.
A governor will be elected. The state's budget has been gutted over the tenure of the last two Republican governors. Education austerity cuts in Georgia have been severe and the system is feeling it. School systems are shortening the school year and teachers have furlough days. Teachers got a raise last year, but that was only before non-paid furlough days were taken into consideration. Over one billion has been cut in each of the four years. That is one billion with a B. The Governor will claim that he has increased spending, but he omits the fact that there is a complicated Quality Basic Education funding formula. According to that formula Georgia is under funding education by billions. Democrats will all tell you that education is the first thing funded and the last thing cut. That is not the philosophy of Governor Deal and the Republicans. They are quite happy to cut as much from the education budget as possible. In contrast a Governor Carter would submit an education budget and then a budget for everything else. Quite a different approach. A State Superintendent of Schools Valerie Wilson will not push the Republican Charter School, selling our schools to private corporations, agenda.
An Insurance Commissioner will be elected. This may help Georgia deal with the Affordable Care Act in a reasonable, common sense manner. Currently Republicans will not make the logical and fiscally responsible decision to accept the Medicare matching funds from the federal government. Common sense tells reasonable people that Georgians pay into that system and they are deserving of getting as much of that money back as possible. If Georgian's don't accept that money, then there are forty-nine more states who will use our portion for their citizens. Our current Insurance Commissioner, Ralph Hudgens, has vowed to do anything to keep the ACA from being implemented in Georgia. He is a cancer survivor. I suppose the provision eliminating pre-existing conditions is not high on his priority list. It is a provision that is widely supported by the public. An Insurance Commissioner Liz Johnson understands that Georgia is cutting off its nose to spite its face by not accepting those billions of dollars in funding.
Labor has long been ignored by the Republican Party in favor of the concerns of the employers. The problem with that approach is that at this point the laborers can no longer afford what their employers are selling. Apparently, employers are not intelligent enough to catch on to the fact they are creating a vicious cycle where nobody will win. Raise the minimum wage. Work on bringing employees up to a living wage. More money will be injected into the economy. Georgia needs employers to inject this money into the economy as opposed to hoarding it. Georgia needs policies that encourage that. Georgia needs policies that punish those who do not do that. No tax breaks for corporate hoarders.
Georgia has a great slate of Democratic candidates for statewide offices this year. Georgians need to seriously consider the course taken over the last decade by Republicans. Georgians need to look at the effects on the state. Georgians need to change course and make decisions in the fall that will bring about a change for the state. Georgia needs to begin to repair the damage done by a decade of Republican rule.