Rural Georgia is often unheard in regard to a variety of issues, but the August 16th runoff between David Lucas and Miriam Paris provides an opportunity for voters to express themselves through the ballot.
State Senate 26 is a Macon-based district, but there are several smaller rural communties that deserve to be heard as well. So a candidate with experience and knowledge not only of Macon, but surrounding rural areas is important.
Progressive programs such as the HOPE scholarship/Pre-K have been dramatically altered by Georgia Republicans and rural areas of Georgia such as Twiggs and Wilkinson counties will be impacted as the opportunity to receive a higher education becomes increasingly harder.
How will these punitive conservative policies affect current along with future graduates of Twiggs County High School and Wilkinson County High School?
Many graduates had been the first in their families to attend and/or graduate from college and now efforts to turn back the clock is in full effect.
In essence, conservative policies have attempted to balance the state’s budget at the expense of the Georgia’s children, senior citizens and the working poor.
Who will stand up for rural citizens and be a progressive advocate that understands the issues facing areas such as Twiggs and Wilkinson counties?
According to the most recent Census, Wilkinson County has lost population nearly seven percent of its total population over the past decade and the median income is approximately $34,000 a year. The state average is $47,469. However, both is well under the nation’s average of approximately $50,000 a year.
Wilkinson is approximately 40% African-American. However, some of its largest cities such as Gordon, Irwinton, Gordon and McIntyre are majority African-American.
Additionally , 21% of Wilkinson County population is under the poverty level.
In neighboring Twiggs County, there has been a greater population loss and now its total population had dipped from approximately 10,600 to 9,000, a drop of about 15 percent
African-Americans make up approximately 41% of the county population, but makes up close to 60% of the population of Twiggs’ county seat Jeffersonville.
The median household income of Twiggs is $34,000 which is well below Georgia’s average and the nation’s average. Consequently, the poverty rate is well below the state average and according to the Census, it sits at 23 percent.
Since the early 1990’s, HOPE had provided an avenue for economically disadvantaged students to receive free public college tuition if a students is able to maintain a 3.0 grade point average or better.
The mission of the HOPE Scholarship has changed, courtesy of Georgia Republicans,and now people can apply for the program if one is making more than over 100,000 a year. If one add in the grade point changes along with
During the 2011 session of the Georgia General Assembly, David Lucas introduced legislation that would institute a family income cap on those students applying for the HOPE scholarship–House Bill 159– that would set a $66,000 income limit to become eligible for HOPE.
The Georgia Republicans did not want a income cap, and in essence it would freeze out a lot of rural Georgians who are high school seniors this year and future high school graduates aspiring to go to college if Republicans are allowed to limit access to higher education via cutting HOPE.