ISSUES

Georgia Medicaid Expansion

It is past time for politicians to stop going to the capital and then start forgetting who sent them there. I want to move us past the era of putting “politics before people”. To start doing that, we must have Georgia Medicaid Expansion now.

Medicaid is a health insurance program funded by both the state and federal government that covers about 1 in 5 Georgians—mostly children, people with disabilities and elderly people who have low to moderate incomes. In Georgia, many adults do not qualify for Medicaid. Starting in 2014, states had the option to increase the income threshold for Medicaid to include more adults who make below or near the poverty line. However, Georgia has not expanded Medicaid to these levels, so adults between ages 19 and 64 without dependent children cannot get Medicaid coverage, and adults with dependents need to make below about $7,000 a year for a family of three.

The federal government pays for 90 percent of the costs for the expansion group, a higher share than the 67 percent the federal government pays for Georgia’s traditional Medicaid program. Georgia is one of 14 states not to adopt the expansion of Medicaid eligibility. As the state continues its response to the COVID-19 pandemic and prepares for future public health events, immediate adoption of the Medicaid expansion would allow the state to bring in more federal money to spend on health care services and ensure more Georgians can afford to get care for COVID-19 and underlying health conditions that could put them at higher risk.

DOUBLE TAXATION

If you own property in Baldwin or Putnam counties, unfortunately because of politicians playing politics you are being taxed twice for the same thing. Americans believe so deeply against this, our country fought a war over double taxation. By our state not accepting Medicaid Expansion, our hospitals are denied their federal tax dollars to stay in operation. This is why over the past four years states such as Georgia that has not accepted Medicaid Expansion have had dozens upon dozens of hospitals close their doors. Baldwin county hospital have suffered grave financial losses and been in bankruptcy. Trying to put a bandage on this bleeding is why property owners are seeing new taxes each year from our county courthouse. The 500,000 dollars the county is trying to raise in taxes will not and cannot substitute for the millions of federal tax dollars that are being sent back to Washington D.C. As some politicians play politics our hospitals are continuing into bankruptcy and closing their doors.

JOB CREATION

Expanding Medicaid according to the, non partisan Georgia Budget & Policy Institute, will create over 56,000 jobs in Georgia each year and boost the state’s economic output by $6.5 billion annually. This will also create 12,000 jobs and $1.3 billion in new economic activity in Georgia’s rural communities each year. Over the past five years, that’s over 60,000 jobs in areas such as Middle Georgia alone. Baldwin and Putnam Counties can benefit automatically from this infusion of jobs. Instead of our community having to only look through low paying jobs without benefits, through Medicaid Expansion our community will have an opportunity to choose from jobs with long lasting careers. Read more…

Raising the Minimum Wage

The citizens of our community are in dire need of not a minimum wage, but of a living wage. The elected leaders in the state of Georgia have denied our fellow citizens over and over a minimum wage increase that would equal the cost of living, which is a living wage. The federal government started increasing the minimum wage from only $5.15 an hour to reflect the living wage almost two decades ago.

Incremental changes were as follows:

  • Effective July 24, 2007, the federal minimum wage increased to $5.85 per hour.
  • Effective July 24, 2008 the federal minimum wage increased to $6.55 per hour.
  • Effective July 24, 2009, the federal minimum wage increased to $7.25 per hour. 

The federal minimum wage is now $7.25 per hour.

Georgia’s minimum wage is $5.15 per hour, however with some limited exceptions; the federal minimum wage rate may be applied. Unfortunately, the Georgia minimum wage is still only $5.15 an hour and that is with exceptions. In the 90’s, when I was in high school and worked as waiter, my hourly wage was $2.13 an hour. To my amazement over twenty years later in the state of Georgia, a waiter or waitress still only earns $2.13 an hour. This is not acceptable. We cannot expect our community to move forward without providing a livable wage for our citizens, and I have a plan for that.

Georgia’s thriving economy is built on the backs of Georgia workers who provide the skills, knowledge and services that allow our state to succeed. Job sectors such as construction, hospitality, retail and food services collectively benefit the public and strengthen our state’s economic resilience and diversity. These hardworking Georgians deserve to earn living wages that allow them to provide for their families.

Our state’s economy is among the fastest growing in the nation, yet over 16% of Georgians still live in poverty. Too many Georgians struggle to achieve financial security. Subject to the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, a single mom working a full-time position would only make $15,080 annually. This salary forces the single mom below the federal poverty line.

 

A true measure of a state’s economic growth and resilience is its ability to offer quality and well paying jobs to its citizens. Despite claims that raising minimum wages leads to higher unemployment; the six U.S. states with the fastest economic growth rates have higher minimum wages. Georgia should not only be the number one state in which to do business, but the number one state to work, to live, and to raise a family.

 

All Georgians working full-time should be able to achieve basic financial security and afford minimum living expenses. By raising the minimum wage, hardworking Georgians will come closer to having the financial stability they deserve. Enacting a living wage would…

 

● Ensure all Georgians who work a full-time job are able to afford their basic living costs

● Provide hardworking Georgians with the financial security they deserve

Taxes

Billion dollar companies get million dollar tax exemptions, while small businesses have to get a loan to pay their taxes. Billion dollar companies sometimes will pick up and move to Mexico, China, Brazil and other countries, but small businesses will not. The people that own them live in the local community and will support their citizens and city with jobs, services and taxes. Dedicate the 4th penny of motor fuel sales tax to “any transportation purpose.” This would allow a dedicated revenue stream to leverage Federal resources for passenger rail, the money for Local Assistance for Road Paving and state aid for local governments to use in economic development. This fourth cent is already being collected on fuel. Instead of being used for the transportation budget, it is being used to fund pork barrel projects, such as fish ponds and horse ranches in Governor Purdue’s hometown of Houston County. Millions of tax dollars go uncollected every year, because the tax collection structure is not working. The state of Georgia should not be collecting taxes for each of the 159 counties within the state and then giving the counties what they feel should be its share. Each county should collect its own taxes, and give the states its share. Baldwin County can do a more efficient job of collecting its taxes than Atlanta. Without raising our taxes by one cent; millions of dollars of revenue that is going uncollected by our insufficient tax collection structure would increase our local and state budgets.

Education

Raising the age that a student can voluntary drop out of school.
Although this has been described by teachers and superintendents across Georgia as a “No Brainer “ bill, it has not passed the Georgia State Legislative as of yet. Parents across our state agree with raising the age that a student can voluntarily drop out of school. This would help to stop the pipeline of young people leaving our schools and joining gangs. Stopping this pipeline will decrease violence in our streets and crimes in our communities. A child that is nowhere near an age of maturity, should not be able to make a monumental decision of dropping out of school. By increasing the age where a child can make this decision will automatically increase the Georgia graduation rate and decrease the high school dropout rate. When Georgia goes in the right direction with increasing graduation rates, then our state is much more marketable to industries and businesses. We then are giving our local elected leaders, as well as our state elected leaders the best tool to bring in major businesses with careers and not just minimum wage jobs. That tool is a well educated work force. Read More…

Transportation

The great state of Georgia has to step into the 21st century with transportation. If you are in a rural county without a public transportation system, it becomes a burden to get groceries, go to work, and receive medical attention; especially if that medical attention comes from out of town. If you take a cab from Baldwin to Macon, Augusta or Atlanta, your bill for the ride may be the equivalent to the value of the cab itself. This is not financially feasible. I have a vision of connecting all of Georgia through affordable transit.
The fourth penny that will be dedicated to “any transportation purpose” will also help pay for passenger rail for Georgia. Georgia can receive 90% of the funds from the federal government by contributing only 10% with a dedicated source of revenue. The state of Georgia already has 100 million dollars invested in bringing the passenger rail from Atlanta to Macon. I will fight that this rail line comes to Baldwin and provide easier access to major cities.

Gun Control

I joined the navy in 1994, and I believe in the Constitution of the United States of America. The Constitution gives citizens the right to bear arms and I am in full support of that.

Ethics

It is more important for me to get to Heaven than to be elected to any office. My Christian principles guide me everyday. Unfortunately scandal after scandal has caused the general public to lose its faith in the Georgia General Assembly. We have been promised time and time again that passing stronger ethics legislation is a priority. Unfortunately, the legislation passed this year barely makes a dent in the problem. There are gaping holes in the legislation and it does little to ensure that the ethical mistakes of the past will not be repeated. We must strengthen ethics legislation to restore the public’s trust in government.