As was mentioned last month through this Blog, on July 1, Georgia began our state fiscal year in the red. The anticipated 6-month extension of the enhanced FMAP had not been passed into law, leaving our state short $375 million dollars. 

But earlier today, the Senate voted in favor of a bill that would provide $16.1 billion for FMAP and also $10 billion for education jobs within states.  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has called members of the House of Representatives to return from their August recess to take a vote on this measure next Tuesday.  Passsage of this funding would arrive at a critical time to help keep our state budget afloat. 

We are not completely in the black, however.  Of the $16.1 billion in federal funds, an estimated $228 million will flow to Georgia, still leaving us about $150 million short for our current fiscal year.  Unless additional dollars are made available to Georgia, we may once again have to brace ourselves for further cuts.

One of the ways in which federal legislators paid for this bill is through reductions starting in 2014 in extra food stamp benefits provided under the 2009 economic stimulus bill.  This is cause for concern since many of the Georgia families who rely on Medicaid and PeachCare coverage for their children also rely on food stamps to help put food on their table.  We understand the urgency of addressing current budget needs, yet we’re concerned about the future negative impact on the food stamp program.  The continuing recession is costing more of our neighbors their jobs, which leads to more kids without health insurance and more kids going hungry. 

Tough choices must be made–there’s no doubt about that.  We just want to make sure that the impact on kids and families is considered with every vote taken.

Joann Yoon, Assoc. Policy Director for Child Health

Voices for Georgia’s Children