Rep. Buzz Brockway’s and the GOP’s profound disconnect

On Thursday, Rep. Buzz Brockway (R-Lawrenceville) took to Peach Pundit and posted a Harvard study that many passed around all week.Except Rep. Brockway drew a much different conclusion than most did. He posited that “… the general breakdown of marriages – and the decline in the number of people bothering to get married in the first place – as well as the loss of trust in civic institutions like Churches and Schools have limited the opportunities low-income people have.”

His argument might actually work if the breakdown of marriages and loss of trust in institutions were unique to the South. They aren’t. But conservative control of state Legislatures is unique to the South and conservative policies are directly responsible for keeping so many Southerners locked in poverty.

Rep. Brockway failed to mention the decade long trend of conservative-led legislative attacks on upward mobility, resulting in economic mobility becoming stagnant among lower and middle class Georgians.

It’s an understatement to say that this profound disconnect is disturbing coming from someone who sits on the Appropriations and Economic Development & Tourism committees in the Georgia House of Representatives.

Frankly, this is his fault. Posting this study with a tone of pragmatism doesn’t change the fact that he and his Party have consistently voted to privatize and defund MARTA, codify the “fair tax”, defund our higher education system, and slash programs that support intact families such as TANF and unemployment benefits.

QBE was underfunded by a billion dollars on Rep. Brockway’s watch, by the Republican Majority, while he was busy proposing that we abolish the 16th amendment and make a national move to a “fair tax”, an idea that even Forbes magazine thinks is the antithesis of upward mobility.

And let’s not forget that the Peach Pundit openly opposed increasing access to Georgia Technical Colleges with HOPE Grant money before it was cool to be for it.

Though I will give Rep. Brockway credit. After the Governor came out liking the idea, he came around and voted for the bill.

But, he did that just before approving a budget that defunded Technical Schools by a whopping $19 million dollars. Their enrollment dropped almost 30% the year after he originally voted to gut HOPE, by the way. Technical Colleges are closing because of his party’s decision to defund the system and the HOPE Grant.

He and his conservative colleagues voted to attack traditional families by creating more hoops for TANF recipients to jump through, based on no evidence at all of drug use among TANF recipients.

They voted to slow mobility and stability by shortening the eligibility of state unemployment benefits from 24 to 14 weeks.

He did all of that, not while trying to restructure education, or even fighting to fund education in the budget process, but while leading the charge to repeal the 17th amendment so the General Assembly can elect U.S. Senators.

I hope his admiration for this study indicates he’s willing to use it to fix what’s been deliberately broken because this is what Georgians care about, not his Anti-Federalist musings.

Otherwise, citing it as a backdoor to further an unconnected, conservative social agenda is offensive. Though it seems that was Rep. Brockway’s intent, I’m open to being corrected.

But, I’m guessing this Harvard study was not his or his Party’s Saul to Paul moment.

If it was, I look forward to being proven wrong in January when Rep. Brockway and the GOP work to undo what he and the rest of the Majority have done to thwart economic mobility across this state.

I look forward to their votes to invest in public K-12 education, technical colleges, and public transportation. I’m excited to see their legislation to get rid of the Pre-K waiting list, fully fund QBE and the HOPE Scholarship, or give struggling families the support they’re looking for from their state government.

If we see those types of ideas coming from Rep. Brockway and the Georgia Republican Party, it will make examples of profound disconnect like Thursday’s post a lot less frustrating.