Republican Governor John Kasich of Ohio used to chair the House of Representatives Budget Committee. He is widely known as a fiscal conservative. As he unveiled his budget last week, Ohio became the fifth Republican state to support President Obama’s plan to expand Medicaid. Kasich made it clear that while he was not a fan of Obamacare, his decision made practical, fiscal sense for Ohio. He can apparently see the advantages of expanding the program and saving Ohio millions of dollars.
Now what does this say about Georgia not accepting the expansion? I’d say it means we are leaving hundreds of millions of dollars on the table. If Medicaid expansion is good enough for Kasich in Ohio, shouldn’t it be good enough for Deal in Georgia?
On key areas of state policy Georgia lags behind and on Medicaid and job creation efforts are lethargic at best. What is even equally amazing is the deafening silence in this urgent policy debate.
How are we doing? Well, we are failing in these areas:
1) Cradle to Career Education. Not only are we cutting instead of increasing per capita funding but we are spending ineffectively. Our Race to the Top education program is floundering and being criticized by the federal government.
2) Infrastructure Investment. We are under investing in roads, bridges and transit and the Governor hasn’t been able to rally the public to support an investment initiative. The chatter during the TSPLOST campaign last summer about there not being a plan B appear to be true.
3) Affordable healthcare. We are leaving hundreds of millions of federal dollars on the table for political reasons, which will drive up the cost of healthcare for everyone else. Those who have healthcare coverage aren’t complaining while those in need suffer and use emergency services for routine care.
So, come on down to Georgia…we have one of the lowest performing education systems in the country, crumbling roads and bridges and an expensive healthcare system. We entered the 21st century as a state with a bright future… now we are no longer leading the parade to economic health and recovery instead we are standing on the sidelines.