Release: Wednesday, January 10, 2017
Atlanta, GA – Today the Chair of the Democratic Party of Georgia, DuBose Porter, issued the following response to the State of the State Address delivered by Governor Nathan Deal:
“This morning, Governor Deal delivered his State of the State Address. While we heard plenty of promises, we did not hear any meaningful solutions to several of the most pressing issues we face as a state.
“More than 300,000 Georgians live without health insurance, we have one of the highest infant and maternal mortality rates, and we rank 49th in Medicaid spending per enrollee. Since 2013, five rural hospitals have shuttered their doors due to lack of funding, and scores more operate under the threat of closure. Yet the governor and his Party not only refuse to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act—they now boast the formation of a ‘repeal Obamacare’ taskforce. All the while, states that have taken advantage of Obamacare’s lifeline have slashed uninsured rates, saved tax dollars and—more importantly—saved lives.
“Georgia has one of the highest poverty rates in the nation, yet our state’s minimum wage remains at an embarrassingly low $5.15. Women comprise 51 percent of Georgia’s population, but we heard no plan to address the gender wage gap. We heard no plan to raise the minimum wage to a standard fitting for the year 2017. Too many workers hold two or more jobs while still living in poverty and are still left out in the cold when it comes to affordable child care, housing, access to health benefits and paid family leave.
“Georgia ranks 38th in per-student spending, investing $1800 less per student than the national average. State budget cuts to education have forced school districts to shorten their calendar year and furlough teachers. Even though voters overwhelmingly rejected Governor Deal’s school takeover plan at the ballot box just months ago, he is pushing another top-down proposal that leaves parents and teachers out of the discussion and does nothing to fully fund our public schools. All this talk about failing schools and still no real discussion about the causes that led to their struggles. Where is the proposal for universal Pre-K? Smaller classrooms? More spending for additional teachers and professionals in the classrooms? When a quality education is the single most power tool given to a child to rise above the economic or class barriers, our state must invest the resources needed to allow educators to equip students for a 21st Century economy.
“The costs to attain a college or technical school degree continue to skyrocket, yet we heard no indication that the governor will work with Democrats to guarantee hardworking students a HOPE scholarship that covers full tuition and the basic necessities on a needs-based system.
“Governor Deal discussed the threat of cybercrimes, but failed to acknowledge the recent attacks on our democracy by a foreign government. And he certainly didn’t mention cyberthreats much closer to home, like we saw just a little over a year ago when the Office of Georgia’s Secretary of State gave out the Social Security numbers and private data of more than six million Georgians, putting our own economic security at risk.
“In his inaugural State of the State Address six years ago, Governor Deal declared that we were ‘entering a new era of smaller government and greater personal responsibility’ and that ‘government must pull back.’ Six years later, we’ve learned that the governor and his Party didn’t just pull back—they pulled the rug out from underneath Georgia families.
“Government certainly isn’t the solution to everything. But it can be a powerful force for good, giving a voice to the voiceless, ladders of opportunity to those who need it most, and safety nets for those who fall. It is the Democratic Party’s mission to ensure that everyone willing to do their part is able to get a well-paying job, buy a home, have affordable healthcare, send their kids to college, and retire with dignity. Democrats in the Senate and House have put forward measures to make these promises a reality, but need willing partners on the other side of the aisle who are committed to working together for what is best for all Georgians.
“As President Obama said last night, we rise or fall as one. We are a community, and our successes and failures are shared. So it is our hope that Republicans work with Democrats to push Georgia down the path of progress.”