A new report says that Georgia's poverty rates have steadily climbed despite the recent recovery of the state's economy.
The Georgia Budget & Policy Institute this week released its latest policy report that says 1.8 million adults and children - about one in five Georgians - lived in poverty in 2012. Georgia suffered its highest levels in more than three decades and currently has the nation's sixth-worst poverty rate.
"The recent recession caused pain both for people already living in poverty and people who fell into it for the first time," GBPI Policy Analyst Melissa Johnson wrote. "Yet the long-standing barriers that continue to block Georgians from moving out of poverty stubbornly persist."
More than 60,000 children in Georgia live in low-income households, according to the report. Poverty across Georgia, the study says, has impacted 15 percent of all families, 20 percent of families with children, and nearly half of all single mothers with kids.
Georgia's poverty rates have disproportionately impacted some of the state's minority populations, GBPI's report says. While the study says 31 percent of Georgians are black, they comprise an estimated 45 percent of the state's impoverished residents. Meanwhile, Hispanics make up 9 percent of the state's overall population, but around 15 percent of those who are poor.
According to the study, residents below the poverty line are less likely to have higher education opportunities and access to health care. Forty-three percent of poor Georgia residents have jobs but many of the available employment opportunities don't offer enough compensation to fully provide for their families. In recent years, part-work time and long-term unemployment have both increased, contributing to Georgia's rising poverty rates.
And echoing findings in other reports, GPBI notes that Georgia's poverty rates rose faster in the suburbs than urban and rural areas. More than 1 million poor residents in Georgia have migrated from the city to more affordable residences in the suburbs. With many poor Georgians heavily dependent on public transit, access to better jobs or schools can become increasingly difficult.
Without key policy changes - including a higher minimum wage, affordable health care, and better education opportunities - GPBI says that poor residents will continue to rely upon government programs rather than help the state through paying more taxes.
"Unless Georgia addresses the fundamental causes of persistent poverty in Georgia, low-income Georgians will continue to struggle for economic survival instead of being valuable resources to the state," Johnson wrote.
We've included the full GPBI report after the jump:
Two people last night died in a northwest Atlanta plane crash. The aircraft, which ignited into flames, took off around 7 p.m. from Fulton County Airport and was headed to New Orleans. "It looked like it was coming straight for our house, and at the last minute, dipped its wings over and it banked really hard right," one nearby resident told the AJC. "It landed a couple hundred yards away from our house, and I thought it hit a neighbor's house."
Lawyers for Michael Brandon Hill, the 20-year-old gunman who fired shots at McNair Discovery Learning Academy, are claiming that he's not mentally competent enough to stand trial.
A forthcoming biopic on Gregg Allman's life, titled Midnight Rider, is scheduled to be filmed in Savannah, Ga., next February.
Georgia's Public Service Commission OK'd a $873 million Georgia Power rate increase for 2014. "We want a company that has the financial strength to make the necessary investments (to serve customers)," Georgia Power attorney Kevin Greene recently said about the rate hike. "Finding that balance is always difficult."
Three students at the New Schools at Carver have been charged with reckless conduct after knocking their French teacher unconscious.
Yesterday afternoon, leaders from the NAACP's Atlanta chapter announced a gun buy-back program to celebrate Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday next month.
Mayor Kasim Reed and other public officials were on hand to endorse the Jan. 16 event.
Reed's support of the buy-back wasn't surprising. Last December, he joined Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a coalition of more than 1,000 U.S. mayors who have stood against unnecessary gun violence, following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn. And he's made improving public safety a top priority of his first term.
But using his considerable clout under the Gold Dome to fight gun bills during the 2014 legislative session? The mayor said he'd steer clear of stepping into the fray. WABE's Jonathan Shapiro reports:
Mayor Reed said current dialogue at the state level is why it's important to support local efforts like the NAACP's buyback initiative. He said local officials have to pick their battles.
"I do not have the capability to stop the gun lobby at the Georgia General Assembly and I'm not going to put my energy there," said Reed. "What I do is try to be constructive and to not give my energies to things I can't change."
He said at the local level that means continuing to build on his first term, during which the city reported fewer murders than it has in a generation. He vowed to continue bolstering Atlanta's police force and building out the city's video surveillance system.
Another potential reason: it'd give a future statewide opponent ample opportunity to paint Reed as an anti-gun activist who felt so strongly about gun issues that he'd walk across the street and argue against loosening Georgia's firearms laws. Even if those laws would affect the city he's been elected to manage. At least two such proposals, one which would allow guns to be carried in churches, college campuses, and unsecured government buildings, are expected to pop back up when state lawmakers convene in 2014.
State Sen. Don Balfour's trial is now under way and could be finished by the week's end. He's facing 18 charges related to the misuse of his legislative expense account.
Morris Brown has revealed its plans to pay off an estimated $34 million debt and climb out of bankruptcy. "The African Methodist Episcopal Church, Inc. has actually come forward and bought out the legal position of Morris Brown's largest creditor," Morris Brown attorney Renardo Hicks said.
A trio of Christian thieves have claimed responsibility for stealing all the racy calendars from a Mall of Georgia kiosk and replacing them with signs that read: "Sorry, misogyny is out of stock," "Should've gone with the puppies," and other sayings.
Emory University President James Wagner is the highest paid college official in Georgia, making a cool $1.2 million per year.
Georgia U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson will back the two-year budget deal. "While reforms included in the agreement are modest, most move America in the right direction," Isakson said in a statement. Meanwhile, Sen. Saxby Chambliss is still up in the air.
Mayor Kasim Reed recently asked all his cabinet members if they wanted to keep their jobs. Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport General Manager Louis Miller and Chief Operating Officer Duriya Farooqui checked the "no" box.
Georgia ranks approximately $3,500 below the U.S. average for public school teacher salaries, a recent study finds.
While Griffin High School quarterback Jaquez Parks was helping his team win a state championship, a group of ne'er-do-wells broke into his parents' home and ransacked the house.
If you walk into a Gwinnett County bank and a guy is wearing a Wolverine costume, it might be a good idea to simply come back later.
Patch, AOL's experiment in the online hyperlocal news market, is reportedly "winding down" after as much as $300 million in investment. The network of blogs include multiple websites, including ones that cover Midtown, East Atlanta, and Buckhead.
China state media on Saturday reported that, for the first time, it landed a space probe on the moon. The country plans additional missions in the coming years and aims to land an astronaut on the moon after 2020.
Jonesboro Police arrested a state DFCS social worker on Saturday for allegedly driving under the influence of cocaine and marijuana while she was transporting a mentally disabled man to a group home.
Raise a glass to WAGA-TV reporter Paul Yates and photojournalist Ira Spradlin. The two reporters, who have nearly 80 years of experience between them, retired last week.
Now that the statue of former Georgia politician and white supremacist Thomas Watson has been moved from the front entrance of the Georgia Capitol, ideas over what to replace it are being bandied about. At least one state lawmaker wants to see a monument that would include the Ten Commandments take its prominent place. But another state lawmaker would like to see a statue honoring the most well-known figure from the Civil Rights Movement and Atlanta's most famous native son placed outside the Gold Dome.
State Rep. Tyrone Brooks, D-Atlanta, prefiled a bill last night for the upcoming legislative session calling for the state to erect a statue of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the spot where the Watson statue previously stood.
Brooks told CL last night that the proposal is a "no brainer," citing the fact that a statue of King is located on the Mall in Washington, D.C., between the Lincoln and Washington memorials, in addition to another statue that stands inside the U.S. Capitol. Brooks mentioned that there are statues of former Govs. (and "racists") John B. Gordon, Eugene Talmadge, and Richard B. Russell but nothing dedicated to the civil rights leader.
"King changed the world, he is popular throughout the world, and he is a native son," Brooks said. "He was born just five blocks away from the state Capitol and there is no statue [of] him on the Georgia state Capitol grounds."
To Brooks, Watson and King were polar opposites of what Georgia should represent.
"Tom Watson represented the worst of our history he represented all that is bad in both American and Georgia history, he was anti-black, anti-Catholic and anti-Semitic," he said. "Dr. King is just the opposite. Dr King's legacy is one of bringing all of us together, and that all people are equal, everyone is the same - and everybody is brothers and sisters and that we should learn to live together. Watson was a divider, he was a racist bigot and Dr. King was a racial healer. He freed blacks and whites. I think the people of state would support a statue of Dr. King in front of the Capitol."
Brooks worked with King's organization, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, in the 1960s up until 1980. The state lawmaker first met King when he was 15 years old and said the civil rights leader made an impact that he "will carry forever in my soul."
When asked about a proposal by state Rep. Greg Morris, R-Vidalia, to place a monument that would include the U.S. and Georgia Constitutions, along with the Ten Commandments, where the Watson statue once stood, Brooks said that he thinks the Decalogue "has a place, but not at the front of the capitol."
Brooks' legislation calls for the statue to be placed "at the steps leading to the front entrance of the state capitol building or another prominent position." "Unless public safety concerns warrant postponement, such monument shall be procured and placed as soon as practicable," it reads.
The subpoenas follow claims from past Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission staffers that current Executive Director Holly LaBerge meddled with an investigation into Deal's 2010 gubernatorial campaign. Back in September, an AJC investigation revealed that she allegedly removed documents related to the state probe and met with Deal's staffers during the process.
Now LaBerge and others will head before a federal grand jury. Reporters Greg Bluestein and Aaron Gould Sheinin report:
Commission attorney Elisabeth Murray-Obertein told the AJC on Wednesday that she and executive secretary Holly LaBerge were served in the commission office. John Hair, a former ethics IT staffer, also said Wednesday he received a subpoena.
"I think federal involvement is long overdue," Hair said. "I'm glad they're pursuing the investigation."
Another person with knowledge of the case who was not authorized to speak for the record told the AJC that former commission director Stacey Kalberman and her top deputy, Sherilyn Streicker, also received subpoenas for documents related to the commission's investigation of Gov. Nathan Deal's 2010 campaign for governor.
Deal lawyer Randy Evans has continued to deny the governor's involvement in any of the allegations. Neither the U.S. attorney's office or the FBI, he said, had contacted his office regarding the federal grand jury.
Nevertheless, the feds are in search of more documents from the probe into Deal's alleged campaign finance violations. Deal was cleared of major charges in a July 2012 settlement where he agreed to pay $3,350 in "administrative fees."
"If documents have been removed, altered or destroyed then there should be an investigation," Evans told the Associated Press. "That's what we've said from the beginning."
You now have an easy place to find the answers to these questions. And see how it's envisioned to evolve over the next 17 years.
Atlanta Beltline Inc., the nonprofit tasked with planning and developing the 22-mile loop of parks, trails, and transit, has officially released its "strategic implementation plan," or SIP, a 140-page document that outlines how the project will progress from now until 2030. ABI's board of directors unanimously approved the plan this morning.
If you follow the $4.8 billion project closely, you'll want to give it a read. (Yes, the Beltline's grand total now over the 30-year construction period is $2 billion higher than originally estimated in 2005. A spokesman says that figure was based on the cost of Beltline projects in 2005 dollars. This plan's cost estimate is more realistic, he says, as it's based on an actual schedule of projects stretching over 17 years, anticipated inflation, and future construction costs).
The plan took approximately one year to complete and included public input from nearly 800 people. It's different from previous efforts, such as the five-year work plan ABI produced at the project's onset, ABI CEO Paul Morris told CL in an interview yesterday. He says it's the first time officials have laid out exactly what they want to build - and when - on paper and for the public.
"It's a little like growing up," Morris says. "Creating the plan, establishing the district, forming ABI was all about starting something. That period, probably the first three to five years, was all about the first stages of development. The last three years or so have been about adolescence, figuring who we are and being a mature business enterprise. And now we are staking our commitment and developing the maturity to be an adult, grown-up organization who, as a team, understands how, and is committed to, fulfilling the objectives."
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