Georgia pulls in a top ranking for this state’s business climate, while continuing to fail on measures of child welfare, seniors health and financial security. Georgia’s families cannot sustain themselves on awards the state receives, and we need policy makers that are committed to doing more.
As the gubernatorial race heats up ahead of the 2018 election, candidates should heed these numbers and offer more than shallow commitments to the Georgia families that depend on this state’s leaders to craft fair policies and advance the interests of Georgia residents.
CNBC just ranked Georgia as the number two state in the nation to do business. This acclaim comes after Georgia has spent several years earning accolades as the number one state to do business according to Site Selection Magazine.
In the past month, however, national, nonpartisan groups that rank states on metrics like seniors health and child welfare reveal a state that continues to lag behind the nation when it comes to the welfare of its citizens.
The Annie E. Casey Foundation released their annual Kids Count report last month, finding that Georgia ranked 42 in the nation for child welfare. One in four Georgia children live in poverty, about one-fifth of high school students are unable to graduate on time, and there are more than 160,000 children without health insurance.
“We know when kids experience toxic stress, and children living in poverty experience greater levels of toxic stress, that can actually change their brain chemistry and how they react,” Dr. Eric Sitkoff told CBS 46 for a series the news outlets is running on this state’s juvenile justice system. Their reporting highlighted a similar trend: there are over 300,000 youth living in extreme poverty in Georgia.
In other words, there are lifelong consequences to Georgia’s continued failures to address the needs of vulnerable populations, like children growing up in low income households.
Meanwhile, the growing population of seniors in Georgia face high rates of food insecurity and too few quality nursing homes, according to a study from the United Health Foundation. Georgia ranked 41st in that report.
As part of an overall report on safety, WalletHub found that Georgia ranks 45th in the nation for financial security, and was 32nd for the overall security residents experience. Financial security takes into account un- and under- employment, foreclosure rates and poverty rates.
Georgia politicians may like to pat themselves on the back for being the number one (or two) state for doing business, but they are failing to prioritize the policies Georgians need to be healthy and thriving. The next round of leaders in this state need to take these failings seriously and be ready to fight for real, meaningful policy change to improve the lives of every person in Georgia.