Despite the outspoken support for local control among Republicans, it is increasingly popular for the State Government to step in and preempt local government action that they disagree with politically. Unfortunately, this preemption is rarely accompanied by a state-lead effort to address the concern that prompted the original action. This leaves many Georgians in an unfortunate situation where their state representatives will not address their concerns and their city/county government cannot address them due to state mandate. There is no doubt that some issues are best handled at a state level, but there are also many that can be best addressed by local governments. In order to most effectively serve Georgians, state policy makers and elected officials have to coordinate with local governments to determine which level of government can best address specific concerns, and how other levels of government can support that mission. And when it is decided that a state-led effort would be most effective, the state must actively lead it or at least allow local governments to do so.
Access to safe, affordable housing is a human right. Unfortunately, for many Georgians this is an unobtainable goal. Whether it is a young middle-class family looking to buy their first home in Oconee County, or a service industry employee looking for a place close to their job in downtown Athens, it is increasingly difficult to find a place to live at an affordable price. Challenges faced by these households are not just felt by those individuals; the lack of affordable housing stock keeps people from taking new jobs in Georgia if they can’t find a place to live, while those who do find a place often sacrifice other necessities such as healthcare to spend on housing instead. Addressing this lack of affordable housing would have untold benefits including an economic boost from more spending outside of housing and individual economic mobility among low and middle-income households.
Criminal Justice Reform
While Georgia has made great strides in reforming our criminal justice system in the past few years, there is still so much that needs to be done and can be achieved. Although we are the eighth most populous state in the U.S. we are first in the number of individuals under state supervision. With more people leaving prison than going in, our probation and parole system is in desperate need of restructuring around evidence-based initiatives to reduce recidivism. It is also imperative that we address the ways that our criminal justice system disproportionately affects low income individuals eliminating or greatly restricting cash bail and expanding exemptions from expenses like probation and court fees, Georgia can make a more equitable system where experience with the criminal justice system is not determined by the size of your bank account.