The Untold Story of Georgia’s Primary Elections

The Untold Story of Georgia’s Primary Elections

Georgia made national headlines after Tuesday’s primary elections. Most of the coverage focused on long lines, mail-in ballots, new voting machines, and results that were not finalized until the wee hours of the morning. (In fact, some results are still pending). 

There were some high profile contests, including a couple of congressional races. Every member of Georgia’s General Assembly (except, of course, for those retiring) were also on the ballot. 

But there was one outcome of Tuesday’s election that you’ve likely heard nothing about.

Both parties have the ability to put non-binding referendum questions on their respective primary ballots. While the results of these questions have no force of law, it is a great way to test voter opinion on various policy ideas. The results are far more accurate than a poll and can help parties and candidates understand the will of the super voters among the electorate.

This year, Republicans included the following as ballot question #1: “Should Georgia lawmakers expand educational options by allowing a student’s state education dollars to follow to the school that best fits their needs, whether that is public, private, magnet, charter, virtual or homeschool?”

The results were overwhelming: as of this writing (results are still coming in), more than 73 percent of voters said “yes.” In fact, the question had majority support in every single one of Georgia’s 159 counties, destroying a common narrative that rural voters don’t support school choice. In all but 12 counties, support was over  two-thirds. In many cases, the ballot question will ultimately receive more support than the Senate or House member representing the district. 

You might be tempted to argue that this only speaks to support for educational options among Republicans. And while the Democratic Party of Georgia didn’t include this question on their primary ballots, making an apples-to-apples comparison impossible, other polling in the state consistently shows support for school choice among all Demographics—Republicans, Democrats, rural, urban, young, old, men, and women. 

Even an AJC poll, worded in such a way as to be biased in the negative, found that 61 percent  of voters supported school choice, even when warned that it might “undercut public school funding.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting school closures, many families were forced into alternative ways of schooling for the first time ever. Families’ experience with how traditional public schools handled the shift to distance learning was mixed and inconsistent. Some schools and teachers excelled, ensuring students did not lose out on learning. Others threw their hands up  early, and kids have suffered. 

In the aftermath of these experiences, and in light of all the uncertainty facing a reopening of traditional public schools in the fall, many families have begun searching for alternatives–virtual education programs, private schools, and innovative public charter schools. 

But will public policy change to support these students who need something outside of the traditional model of education? So far, CARES Act relief has focused millions of dollars to the state Department of Education, local districts, and traditional public schools. Nothing to date has been offered to families whose students fell behind, need to play “catch-up” over the summer, or need a different environment when school returns in the fall. 

If legislators and state leaders are paying attention, that should change.

In recent years, there has been a reluctance on the part of legislators to expand existing school choice programs or create new ones. Usually, the argument goes that it will not be politically expedient to do so. 

Legislators might be dismissive of polling, but if they ignore actual voters who went all the way to the end of the ballot and chose to say “yes” when asked if money should follow the child to the best school for them, it could ultimately be at their own peril. 

Now that voters have spoken—clearly and specifically—how will legislators respond? Will they listen to the will of those who elected them? Elected officials (or those who wish to be elected in the future) have the ultimate opportunity for a win-win: they can give kids the educational opportunities they need and deserve while giving voters what they support and demand.

 

 

 

Lawrenceville creates a center to help vulnerable residents during COVID-19 | 11 ALIVE

Lawrenceville creates a center to help vulnerable residents during COVID-19 | 11 ALIVE

Lawrenceville creates a center to help vulnerable residents during COVID-19 | 11 ALIVE

LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. — Lawrenceville’s response to the coronavirus is now up and running, offering short-term emergency assistance to residents.

 

City council members, alongside Lawrenceville Mayor David Still, approved an agreement with Impact46, Inc. to create the Lawrenceville Response Center (LRC) at the April 27th meeting…

 

The center is a partnership between the city, Impact46, the Lawrenceville Housing Authority, the Georgia Center for Opportunity, the Lawrenceville Co-Operative MinistryHomeFirst Gwinnett and other non-profits.

 

Read the full article here

Lawrenceville creates a center to help vulnerable residents during COVID-19 | 11 ALIVE

THE CENTER SQUARE – SNAP applications in Georgia jump sharply during COVID-19 crisis

Applications to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) have increased by 79 percent in less than a week in Georgia amid the COVID-19 outbreak, state officials said.

The health crisis, which has led to the social distancing requirements and shelter-in-place orders in places around the state, also has caused a spike in unemployment claims and fears over food security…

Representatives for the Georgia Center for Opportunity (GCO), a solutions-based think tank focused on community building through public policy, said they expect the number of Georgians who depend on government assistance to continue to grow in the coming months.

“The health toll is the most severe, but the economic consequences are also deeply felt,” GCO president and CEO Randy Hicks said.

 

GCO spokesman Corey Burres said long-term reforms need to be set in place to drive faster recovery.

“Obviously the longer our communities face financial hardship, the less money will be available for government interventions,” he said.

Hicks said the most impact could come from community support.

“We believe that the most good will happen through our local communities, where neighbors help neighbors,” he said.

Read the full article here

Lawrenceville creates a center to help vulnerable residents during COVID-19 | 11 ALIVE

AJC – Parental paid leave makes inroads in Georgia after years of resistance

Three months of paid leave, maid service and a year of free diapers.

 

Those are among the parental perks the Midtown software firm SalesLoft is using to lure top talent through its doors — and keep them there.

SalesLoft is an outlier among companies in Georgia, which has long ranked among the bottom of states requiring paid leave benefits.

But that’s beginning to change amid record-low unemployment as businesses court workers, particularly in highly paid, white-collar fields such as tech and consulting…

“Our birthrates are the lowest ever,” the Pennsylvania Republican said at a Georgia Center for Opportunity event at Georgia Tech earlier this month. Moderate and lower-income workers, he added, “are having the hardest time figuring out how they’re going to raise a family.”

Read the full article here

Lawrenceville creates a center to help vulnerable residents during COVID-19 | 11 ALIVE

Georgia earns high marks for career development, but workforce lags, labor commish says

Georgia’s workforce development program has been selected as the best in the South Atlantic Region by business publication, Site Selection Magazine.

Gov. Brian Kemp made the announcement a day after Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said workforce numbers are lagging…

Georgia spends about $23 billion in welfare costs annually, according to the Georgia Center for Opportunity. About 20 percent of the state’s population receives one or more benefits.

 

The Georgia Center for Opportunity also found that nearly 250,000 of Georgia’s male population between 25 to 54 years old are no longer counted in the labor force because they have “dropped out.”

 

Lawmakers need to ensure the job opportunities are being presented in the impoverished areas of our state, Corey Burres, spokesperson for the nonprofit, told The Center Square in an earlier interview.

 

Read the full article here

Lawrenceville creates a center to help vulnerable residents during COVID-19 | 11 ALIVE

Why should you care about the ex-offender in your community?

Local coalition works to reduce recidivism rates and replace stigmas with compassion

When it comes to tackling deep-rooted social issues, no single organization can do it alone. The Greater Gwinnett Reentry Alliance (GGRA) is a coalition of service providers in Gwinnett County that works to mobilize community resources — human, financial, and material — all with the purpose of reducing recidivism rates in the county and beyond…

Other partners in GGRA include GRIP, Hearts to Nourish Hope, Navigate Recovery, United Way of Greater Atlanta, Georgia Center for Opportunity, Judy House Ministry, Obria Medical Clinics and others.

 

Read the full article here