Thursday, December 1, 2011

Better Georgia to take on Conservatives

Editor's Note: The author of this post, Bryan Long, is Executive Director of Better Georgia.

I’ve been waiting for this day for a long time. By some measures it’s been months. By other measures, years.

Today Georgia begins a journey toward a better, more progressive state. It’s the day progressives have decided we’re sick of letting the debate in Georgia be between the right and the far right.

It’s the day we launched Better Georgia, a new statewide initiative to bring together people who are disappointed with the direction Gov. Nathan Deal and the leaders of our General Assembly are taking the state

There are too many of us who believe Georgia deserves better to remain silent.

Better Georgiaseeks to focus lawmakers on schools and jobs instead of fringe issues that have made our state unattractive to business investment and job growth.

Anyone who has lived in Georgia for more than a decade can remember when our state was the shining Capital of the New South. We remember when Georgia led the nation as an example of smart business, outpacing our Southern peers with quality job growth and rivaling northern states with our education system. Today we lead the nation in bank failures.

It turns out that Gov. Deal’s Georgia looks a lot like Alabama.

Georgia faces historic levels of unemployment with nearly half a million workers looking for jobs. Georgia has the third highest poverty rate in nation, with two cities ranked among the nation’s 10 poorest places to live. And Georgia’s students are defaulting on student loans faster than the national average.

Meanwhile, businesses refuse to open in Georgia because our elected officials can’t seem to focus on building an environment that attracts the best jobs. This would include a community that celebrates diversity, provides a quality education and maintains a transportation system that works.

Georgia once took pride in rising above issues that held back much of the South. Today, Gov. Deal and many of our lawmakers are chasing every bad idea Conservatives have dreamed up -- from Alabama’s anti-immigrants law to Mississippi’s personhood amendment.

Earlier this year, Georgia passed a law that will cost the average family farmer $1.2 million in lost revenue annually, for a total up to $1 billion in losses statewide.

A section of this anti-immigrants law is similar to one passed in Alabama that requires police to check the immigration status of suspects they believe are illegally in the country.

Alabama’s law recently led to the arrest of a German manager with Mercedes-Benz who was visiting for business. Both states have watched crops rot in the fields and suffered economic losses at the hands of our lawmakers.

And now two Georgia lawmakers – one Republican, one Democrat -- have proposed separate bills that would bring the zygote “personhood” law to Georgia, putting the state’s research institutions in jeopardy. A similar referendum failed with Mississippi voters this summer.

Georgia’s economy is too fragile to be distracted for a minute with these issues. We can’t afford these laws that are proven to be bad for jobs and bad for our economic recovery.

Better Georgia is dedicated to fighting the nonsense that somehow passes for “common sense” under the Gold Dome these days. We’re dedicated to organizing Georgians who aren’t ready to give up on our state.

Take Action Now.

So, what can you do to help? If you live in Georgia, please join the movement.

The first step is to take a two-question poll that will help focus attention on real issues that matter to real Georgians:

Then, you can also join the discussion at
The most important action you can take right now is to tell your friends, families and coworkers that we’re not giving up on Georgia. We are prepared to stand together and rebuild the Empire State of the South.