WHAT GEORGIANS SAW THIS WEEK: Georgia Wins Big With President Biden’s Build Back Better Framework, Local Elected Officials Praise the American Rescue Plan

November 5, 2021

This week, after President Biden announced the Build Back Better framework, Georgians saw news across the state touting how transformative the framework’s investments in the middle class will be for the Peach State. Without raising taxes a single penny for Georgians earning under $400,000 a year, the framework will lower Georgians’ bills for health care, child care, prescription drugs, and preschool — all while cutting taxes for families.

As Georgia Democrats continue to work diligently to pass this popular economic agenda, local elected officials in Athens and Albany praised the President’s American Rescue Plan for rebuilding Georgia communities from the tolls of the pandemic. In an op-ed, Albany State Representative CaMia Hopson also blasted Republicans for trying to block the relief Georgia needed to get our economy back on track, saying “The effects of the American Rescue Plan will be felt for generations to come, which is why it is so indefensible that Brian Kemp and Georgia Republicans opposed the bill from start to finish and tried to make passing this relief as difficult as possible for Democrats.”

Read more about what Georgians saw this week:


Georgia Public Broadcasting: Georgia policy group expects Biden’s economic plan to spur historic reduction in child poverty

  • The Georgia Budget and Policy Institute is urging the state’s congressional delegation to support President Biden’s Build Back Better plan. GPB’s Ellen Eldridge explains.
  • As members of the U.S. House of Representatives ready themselves to vote Friday on the Biden administration’s Build Back Better plan, the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute is encouraging the state’s congressional delegation to support the plan.
  • The framework in this plan is an opportunity to increase opportunity, reduce poverty and shrink racial inequities for Georgia’s children, workers and family, said Caitlin Highland, director of strategic communications at GBPI.
  • Roughly 270,000 Georgians currently make too much to qualify for Medicaid and too little to afford insurance on HealthCare.gov.
  • “This would help them access that health care coverage,” Highland said. “And I want to be very clear that that’s particularly important for racial equity because a disproportionate share of those in that coverage gap are Black, Latino and other people of color.”
  • Georgia is one of 12 states that have so far not expanded Medicaid, and the state had the third highest uninsured population prior to the pandemic.
  • But Medicaid expansion in Georgia is unlikely, as Republican state officials and lawmakers have refused to take the option under the Affordable Care Act to expand insurance for adults living in poverty. Gov. Brian Kemp has instead offered his own partial expansion plan to the federal government, which is under review by the Department of Health and Human Services.
  • The Child Tax Credit, which posts an average of $300 a month for families, would be extended into 2022 if the Build Back Better plan passes.
  • “The Child Tax Credit is also a powerful racial equity tool that would advance economic opportunity,” Highland said. “It could lift nearly 700,000 Georgia kids near or above the poverty line, including about 470,000 Black children who are now able to access the benefits because it allows for refund ability.”
  • As the pandemic continues to affect both Georgia’s residents as well as the state’s economy, this tax credit is currently helping families afford basic necessities, Highland said.
  • “These monthly checks can help you afford rent; they can help you afford groceries,” she said. “It’s really about making sure that folks can afford those necessities and give their kids a better life.”

Atlanta Journal-Constitution: How Biden’s social policy package could impact Georgia

  • President Joe Biden’s $1.75 trillion package to expand the nation’s social system and combat climate change would overhaul the nation’s healthcare, tax and education policies.
  • The White House on Friday released a framework for how the far-reaching law, which still must survive internal Democratic feuding and stiff GOP opposition, would affect Georgians.
  • The administration said the Build Back Better policy would provide access to child care for about 665,000 young children per year, along with universal pre-school for more than 193,000 additional 3- and 4-year-olds. About 150,000 more Georgia students a year would get access to free school meals.
  • It would increase maximum Pell Grant awards by $550 for students at public and private colleges and universities, which would go to roughly 200,000 students in Georgia who rely on the program. And 32 community colleges in the state could tap into grants to develop new workforce training programs.
  • The law would expand federal assistance for roughly 650,000 Georgians who are renting. And it would expand the Medicaid program to cover nearly 550,000 uninsured residents.
  • It would extend a child tax credit of $300 per month per child under six and provide a tax cut of up to $1,500 annually for low-wage workers in Georgia.

WGXA (Macon): Universal and affordable childcare to be among Biden’s Build Back Better plan

  • Parents are shelling out the big bucks, not only on toys, or clothes but childcare.
  • The Biden Administration wants to change that, with the largest investment in childcare in U.S. history.
  • With the introduction of President Biden’s new initiative called, “Build Back Better,” families across the United States can have access to affordable childcare.
  • According to The White House, the framework targets 655,172 young children (ages 0-5) per year with families earning less than half the median Georgia income.
  • Families who fall under that range will be ensured to pay no more than 7% of their income on high-quality child care.
  • Among other perks include universal free preschool for every 3 and 4-year old in the U.S.
  • Mother of three, Diamond Hipol doesn’t believe any child should get left behind simply because they can’t afford it.
  • “A lot of people especially with minimum wage, daycare is so expensive that they can’t afford to work because daycare cost as much as they make, so I think it could help. Every child should have equal access to academics.”
  • Jessica Jackson, the director of Jackson Daycare sees the strain tough times have caused parents.
  • “This morning, we had a heartfelt conversation with a parent that was struggling with having to paying childcare, and she was telling us that she would have to pull her child due to the lack of funds,” said Jackson.
  • If passed, parents across the state will be able to send their children to any preschool of their choice and will expand access to free high-quality school to 193,00 little Georgians.
  • The President’s plan is set to be voted on next week.

Georgia Health News: Uninsured in Georgia, South would win big under Democrats’ plan

  • At least 2.2 million low-income adults — nearly all in Texas and the Southeast — would be eligible for government-funded health insurance under the Democrats’ $1.75 trillion social spending and climate change plan.
  • That’s the number of people who are eligible for Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act but have been left uninsured because they live in one of the dozen states that have not expanded coverage under the 2010 law. They are in the coverage gap — with incomes too high to qualify for Medicaid, but below the $12,880 annual federal income minimum for an individual to qualify for subsidized coverage in the insurance marketplaces created by the ACA.
  • An estimated 60% of those caught in that Medicaid coverage gap are Black or Hispanic, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. And nearly two-thirds of those in the gap live in one of three Republican-controlled states: Texas (771,000), Florida (415,000) and Georgia (269,000), according to a KFF analysis.
  • Under the plan announced by President Joe Biden after negotiations with key Democratic lawmakers in Congress, those in the gap would qualify for ACA marketplace subsidies for four years starting in January. They would get additional cost-sharing protections starting in 2023 that would bring their out-of-pocket costs close to zero.
  • To encourage existing Medicaid expansion states to maintain their coverage levels, the bill would raise the 90% federal matching rate for the expansion population to 93% from 2023 through 2025.
  • Marketplace health plans generally pay higher reimbursement rates than Medicaid — but they also often come with higher deductibles that can be difficult for patients to pay and providers to collect.
  • Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), a key lawmaker advocating for the provision, said Congress needs “to close the coverage gap in Georgia and the 11 other states where hardworking families wake up every day without health care coverage their neighbors in 38 other states enjoy.”
  • Expanding coverage, he said, would help many patients better manage their health by getting access to primary care doctors and specialists. Medicaid enrollees make up 25% of Williams’ patients, while more than 30% have no coverage. “Our largest payer group is the uninsured,” he said.
  • The Medicaid gap has contributed to the financial problems of rural hospitals in Georgia, leading to recent closures, said Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.). On people stuck in the coverage gap: “It’s unfair, and folks are suffering and dying needlessly.”
  • Anne Dunkelberg, health policy expert for the advocacy group Every Texan, said 80% of Texans in the coverage gap are in working households. “I obviously am not going to celebrate till the ink dries, but I’d be thrilled for the working poor in Texas to get coverage.”


The Red and Black: Athens mayor breaks down local effects of American Rescue Plan

  • On March 11, President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act into law, committing $1.9 trillion in federal funding to aid the country’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Athens-Clarke County received about $67 million in funding as a result of the bill, Athens Mayor Kelly Girtz said.
  • The Red & Black interviewed Girtz on how the money has impacted the community thus far, and what Athenians can expect to come from the funding in the future.
  • ARPA allocated over $100 billion to be distributed to cities and counties across the country. As a unified city-county government, Athens-Clarke County was eligible to receive both, totaling around $58 million. ARPA also provided the county with $7 million for public transportation, as well as another $2 million for housing assistance and support for people experiencing homelessness, Girtz said.
  • Girtz said the $2 million aid for housing was significant, and that the county also plans to spend some of the $58 million in city-county funding on housing.
  • “We saw our unsheltered homeless population on the streets more than double in the past 18 months,” Girtz said. “It’s critical that we be able to scoop up those folks as quickly as possible to get people back on the path of wellness.”
  • The county began to put the $7 million in transportation funding from ARPA to use by extending fare-free bus service, which began early into the pandemic last year. Currently, the transit system is set to be fare-free until June 30, 2022. Girtz emphasized that this would help those who need to get to work or get groceries get around more easily.
  • Girtz said one of the biggest things the county has been able to accomplish with ARPA funding is encouraging the community to get vaccinated against COVID-19. He touted the county’s relatively low mortality rate throughout the pandemic. According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, Clarke County has seen 171 COVID-19 deaths throughout the pandemic, compared to a total case count of just over 20,000.
  • “It’s kind of the most foundational question of life or death,” Girtz said. “We’ve been heavily incentivizing vaccination, and every person who gets vaccinated becomes less of a factor for COVID spread.”
  • Even with all the projects that have already been passed, Girtz said the county hasn’t spent the majority of the funds from ARPA. With some of the remaining funding, he said the county is committed to aiding small, minority-owned businesses and providing more aid for the homeless and housing-insecure.
  • “If you want to do something successfully, you need to plan and tee up those expenditures. You don’t want to just wildly spend money, you know, like you’re Oprah throwing cash into the audience,” Girtz said.
  • Girtz, a Democrat, said the county has been lucky that the Democrat-controlled Congress was able to pass ARPA. While former President Donald Trump’s administration passed the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, Girtz said funds from the CARES Act had to be spent in a much faster timeline. 
  • He said the county spent the funds as successfully as it could under the time restrictions, but wasn’t able to be as careful as he would have liked. Coronavirus Relief Fund money from the CARES Act initially had a spending deadline of Dec. 30, 2020, although on Dec. 27, 2020, the Trump administration extended the deadline until the end of 2021. Funds from ARPA do not have to be designated until the end of 2024, and do not have to be spent until the end of 2026.
  • Girtz also said he was thankful that ARPA sent money directly to local governments, as CARES funds initially went to the state to distribute.
  • “We were going to be receiving somewhere north of $20 million of CARES funds,” Girtz said. “But at the 11th hour, the Kemp administration kept two-thirds of the money for state purposes, and those dollars never went to local governments, obviously to my great frustration.”
  • With the 2022 midterm elections approaching and Democrats in Congress barely holding on to their majorities, Girtz spoke highly of what the Biden administration has accomplished since the president took office.
  • “As somebody who worked in public education for 20 years, things like the child tax credit and universal pre-K is going to have multi-generational benefits,” Girtz said. “If you care about kids being well cared for and you want them to become successful adults, you need to pull the ballot for the Democratic candidate that you see on the screen.”

Albany Herald: CaMia Hopson: Albany is bouncing back thanks to Biden’s American Rescue Plan

  • Albany has seen tough times — especially over the past 18 months. Living here for decades and serving in the state Capitol has shown me time and time again how resilient our community has been through the ups and the downs, but when the pandemic struck, it hit our area particularly hard. Our already fragile health care systems were on the brink of collapsing, and families in my district and beyond were paralyzed, wondering how they would be able to afford the next rent, utilities, or credit card bill.
  • It wasn’t fear that brought us a brighter day; it was hope. We had hope that President Biden, Vice President Harris, and Senators Ossoff and Warnock would lead us toward recovery and revitalization. And that’s exactly what they delivered for Albany with the American Rescue Plan.
  • Thanks to the historic relief in Democrats’ American Rescue Plan, the city of Albany received $22 million and Dougherty County received $17 million to jump-start our efforts to rebuild our local economy. With this funding, Albany has been able to provide incentives to give our community a positive push to get vaccinated. Today, the program has been so successful that the county has hosted three drive-through vaccine drives to encourage people to get their second dose and booster shots before the holidays. None of this would have been possible without the American Rescue Plan.
  • These historic investments have gone even further to boost our community by helping us address neglected infrastructure projects, like the sewer system and municipal services, and investing $1 million into Albany’s airport. Albany Area Primary Health Care also has received almost $9 million, which will be crucial to patients all across southwest Georgia.
  • Albany families have felt the impacts of the American Rescue Plan right in their bank accounts. President Biden’s child tax credits have delivered tax cuts for 91% of families with children in Georgia, helping middle- and lower-income families get back on their feet. Experts predict that the Child Tax Credit program will reduce the state’s overall child poverty rate from 13.6% to 5.9% and that the black child poverty rate will decrease even further from 21.8% to 11.4%. Across Georgia, these tax cuts are helping families fend off eviction, pay utility bills and back rent, buy groceries and school supplies, and cover other expenses.
  • The effects of the American Rescue Plan will be felt for generations to come, which is why it is so indefensible that Brian Kemp and Georgia Republicans opposed the bill from start to finish and tried to make passing this relief as difficult as possible for Democrats. If Republicans had their way, Albany would not have seen a dime of these investments. But we won’t soon forget how hard the Biden-Harris administration, Senators Warnock and Ossoff, and Georgia Democrats fought to build our community back better.


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