The Fight for Our Future
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp is requesting a 14% reduction in budgets for every state agency. His justification: increased unemployment due to the COVID-19 pandemic will reduce state revenues. But 14% budget cuts will only deepen the profound unemployment crisis. His actions, both before and after this crisis, reveal his priorities. Kemp and the Georgia political leadership want to maintain Georgia as “business-friendly” at the expense of students and workers.
In 2017, Georgia passed a bill that was enacted just last year that profoundly altered the amount of revenue coming into state coffers. According to the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, certain businesses now receive tax breaks to the tune of $1.3 billion that last until 2025. All corporations benefit from permanent tax law changes equaling $1.8 billion. This sits side by side with the Georgia Department of Education’s estimate that the K-12 shortfall due to these cuts will be $1.6 billion. The political leadership of Georgia is making a choice; this is not inevitable.
For higher education, the Board of Regents was predicting a loss of $350 million even before the 14% cut was announced. These cuts are almost three times what campuses had been anticipating. Following this course of action, furloughs and layoffs will happen. Georgia’s college students will receive lower quality education. And the state will receive less income and sales tax revenue. This is the opposite direction from where our state should be headed.
The United Campus Workers of Georgia call on the Georgia Legislature to repeal the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. If this increased revenue is insufficient to cover the losses associated with the pandemic, we recommend the following to the Board of Regents.
- Cap all salaries at $250 thousand dollars (the top earner, Georgia Tech President G.P. “Bud” Peterson makes $1,135,710.27 a year.)
- Enact a progressive furlough policy with higher paid personnel taking more days.
- Ensure furloughs will not affect any employee (adjuncts, graduate students, staff, etc) who makes less than $65 thousand dollars a year.
- Halt all new construction and planned campus expansion
UCWGA also supports all local chapters in demanding what they need from their University and College Presidents. At a state-wide level, Georgia politicians can pull together and say in one voice that Georgia’s students and working people matter. United Campus Workers of Georgia calls on them to do exactly that.
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