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Powerball is up to $1 billion, but what does that mean for you?
For only the third time in lottery history, the Powerball jackpot has hit $1 billion in Georgia and you’re probably crafting that nice “I’m outta here” note to give to your boss after Wednesday’s drawing.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, shall we?
Keep the altruistic part of your mind open and remember the lottery finances not only your wildest dreams but educational aspirations for Georgians as well.
Since 1992 when it first started, the Georgia Lottery Corp. has paid out $25.7 billion to the state for education. All Georgia Lottery profits go to pay for specific educational programs, including Georgia’s HOPE Scholarship program and Georgia’s Pre-K program. Over 2.1 million students have received HOPE and more than 1.7 million 4-year-olds have attended the state’s voluntary prekindergarten program.
Powerball has yielded nearly $5.95 million in prizes for winners and nearly $19 million for educational programs since the jackpot began growing after the last drawing. No one won the big jackpot in Monday’s game, but someone in Georgia is $2 million richer.
In similar fashion, Mega Millions has distributed over $3.9 million in prizes and $14.3 million for educational programs since the last drawing. [No one won Tuesday’s Mega Millions drawing, pushing the jackpot to an estimated $720 million.]
Just so you know: Your odds of winning the Powerball jackpot are 292,201,338 to 1.
What the heck, I’m off to get my ticket…
Check out more stories on the Georgia Lottery and the education programs it funds:
Header photo: For the third time in Georgia Lottery history, the Powerball jackpot tops $1 billion. (Credit: Beau Evans)
As Oct. 1 approaches, we find ourselves on the cusp of a momentous day — the 99th birthday of the 39th president of the United States, James Earl “Jimmy” Carter Jr. Born in the small town of Plains, Georgia, in 1924, Carter’s journey from peanut farmer to the White House stands as a testament to the …
ATLANTA — As Georgia grapples with a severe workforce shortage, a Senate committee is looking at changing laws and policies that keep skilled professionals, including doctors and nurses, waiting a year or more to get to work.
The Senate Study Committee on Occupational Licensing heard this week from several experts with insights into the bureaucratic barriers plaguing skilled workers.
Many occupational licenses in Georgia are issued by one of 43 licensing boards housed in the Professional Licensing Boards Division of the secretary of state’s office. They cover 197 license types, including cosmetologists, nurses, social workers, foresters, architects and plumbers. Other professions are regulated by independent state boards, including doctors, engineers and realtors.
About 30% of U.S. workers need a license to work, said Marc Hyden, director of state government affairs for R Street Institute, a public policy think tank based in Washington, D.C.
Hyden praised recent laws passed in Georgia that have expedited the process for veterans and military spouses with professional skills to obtain licenses when they move into the state. But he said more reforms are needed.
The licensing division is understaffed and underfunded, Hyden said, and receives only $8.5 million of the $24 million it generates from licensing fees. This lack of resources prevents some boards from providing timely and efficient service, he said, creating a backlog of prospective skilled workers.
About 27% of professional license applications administered by the Professional Licensing Board Division take a year or more to process, according to the secretary of state. The rest can take up to six months. Some boards are relying on paper applications, mail service and manual processes to handle applications.
Why It Matters
Hyden noted that other states manage to issue licenses within 30 days, in part because their boards are better staffed and meet more often — monthly, instead of quarterly, as with some Georgia boards.
Georgia is enjoying record economic growth. Over the last four years, the state has attracted over 1,700 economic development projects, $65 billion in investment and 165,000 jobs, according to the Georgia Chamber of Commerce.
But the state’s workforce can’t supply enough workers to meet the growing number of job opportunities. There is only one job seeker for every three job postings, the Chamber said.
Among jobs in highest demand in Georgia are registered nurses, pharmacists, accountants, construction contractors and truck drivers – all of which require state licenses. Many workers now in these fields are nearing retirement.
According to the Georgia Health Care Workforce Commission, 20% of health care workers are over age 55 and looking to retire in the next 10 years. About 4% of the health care workforce leaves annually and is not being replaced by new graduates.
Most of the state is medically underserved, with 65 of Georgia’s 159 counties without a pediatrician, 82 counties without an obstetrician and 90 without a psychiatrist.
To draw more people into skilled professions, “we need to think creatively … and improve licensing,” said Daniela Perry, vice president of the Chamber.
One area ripe for reform is how the state handles licensing of professionals who come to Georgia from other states and countries.
Since 2019, 22 U.S. states have adopted universal license recognition laws that establish a streamlined process to recognize professional licenses issued by another state. If the applicant holds a license in good standing and has no pending disciplinary actions or a disqualifying criminal record in one state, they can practice in another.
This year Georgia passed HB 155, which allows licensing boards to grant licenses to some out-of-state professionals if the license they hold is “substantially similar” in qualifications and scope to what Georgia requires.
The Georgia law is more restrictive than those in other states, which only call for “similar” qualifications and don’t require residency, said Austen Bannan, an employment expert with Americans for Prosperity. Other states allow years of professional experience to stand in for some training requirements. Georgia doesn’t, mandating seasoned skilled tradespeople pursue hundreds or thousands of hours of additional training.
“The idea is not to force people to relearn their skill set,” Bannan said.
Georgia is also missing out on the skills of many foreign-trained professionals due to its stringent licensing requirements, said Darlene Lynch, who chairs the Business & Immigration for Georgia Partnership, which works to enhance economic development by tapping into the skills of immigrants.
Georgia’s foreign-born population has grown by 90% over the last 20 years, and 10% of Georgians — more than a million people — are now foreign born, she said, adding that half are naturalized citizens, and a third have college or graduate degrees.
Though 1 in 5 doctors in Georgia is foreign-born, Lynch said, “Too often we’re watching doctors driving Ubers, dentists working behind a CVS counter, a welder working at a poultry plant — they’re not going back to the field where they have the most experience.”
She urged the committee to adopt the licensing practices of other states, which recognize the medical credentials of foreign-born physicians and other health care professionals, and develop expedited pathways for other skilled immigrants to become licensed.
“We have a pool of talent that other states don’t have to draw upon,” Lynch said.
Sen. Larry Walker III, R-Perry, chair of the occupational licensing committee, said many of the issues raised at the meeting this week have come up at the GA WORKS Commission, an effort led by Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger this year to slash bureaucratic barriers in occupational licensing. That includes a total revamp of the application process, which is projected to be fully digitized by spring 2024.
“We’ve got to get into the modern world with this licensing issue if we’re going to continue to grow our economy,” Walker said.
Header photo: Some foreign-trained doctors and other health professionals wait for years for approval to practice in Georgia, due to the state’s demanding occupational licensure requirements. (Credit: baona)
Key takeaways: Birthday celebrations for Jimmy Carter, Georgia’s most famous native son and the nation’s oldest-living president, will take place Saturday to avoid the threat of a looming partial federal government shutdown. James Earl Carter Jr. turns 99 on Sunday, the day the federal government is set to shutdown if federal lawmakers don’t reach an …
ATLANTA — College-bound Halle Mickel gave state lawmakers on Tuesday a compelling glimpse into Georgia’s foster care system.
The 19-year-old who has seven siblings in five different homes told the Senate Foster Care and Adoption Study Committee how her family’s life has been “turned upside down” ever since they were separated last April. She sees her siblings once a week. Sometimes, those visits are canceled because child welfare workers aren’t prepared, she said.
“The pain it caused not only my mom but me felt horrible,” she said. “Watching them cry as they have to leave my mom and go home to a stranger. Seeing my siblings not getting the proper hygiene care they need and so much more. Like many others, my family has been torn to pieces by the child welfare system due to struggling with poverty and being in need of immediate help. Parents aren’t always at fault when DFCS is involved.”
Mickel’s story was included among more than four hours of testimony from advocates and experts in the foster care, child welfare and family court fields. Tuesday’s session focused primarily on finding solutions for Georgia’s taxed foster care system.
Georgia has about 11,000 children in foster care, committee chair Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick told State Affairs in a post-hearing interview Tuesday. Many are in the system due to abuse, neglect, family drug addiction, violence and other hardships.
Georgia’s foster care system is stretched so thin that children in foster care in Georgia spend about two years in the system — nearly three months longer than the national average of 21.7 months, according to The Council of State Governments Southern Office.
Often there aren’t enough families to take in children so many end up in hotels or offices as a result, Candice Broce, head of Georgia Family and Children Services, recently told the committee.
Broce was back before the committee Tuesday with good news. The foster care system reached a milestone on Sept. 8, when no foster children were reported staying in hotels or offices, she said. Since then, the agency has only used hoteling in a few emergency cases, she noted.
Still, Tuesday’s testimonies showed Georgia is spending more money troubleshooting and intervening rather than preventing children from having to go into the foster care system.
About $538 million in state and federal money is spent on Georgia’s foster care system. The bulk of that — $498.5 million — goes to intervention and late intervention programs, according to Voices for Georgia’s Children, a nonprofit child policy and advocacy group.
“In Georgia, we allocate around 20% of Title IV funding towards prevention while the majority of resources are funneled into the foster care and adoption industry,” said Sarah Winograd of Together With Families, an advocacy group for families in the child welfare system.
“While the majority of the resources are funneled into the foster care and adoption industry,” Winograd told the committee. “It’s an industry. Consider the numbers: a staggering $32,000 per year to keep one child separated from their family and in foster care.”
It costs her organization “a mere $500 to $1,500 per child in assistance and resources at Together with Families to prevent foster care and help families improve their own lives,”she said.
Why It Matters
The committee heard suggestions to help Georgia focus more on prevention rather than intervention. Among the suggestions:
- Issue state identification cards to foster children. Often kids are removed from their homes during chaotic situations leaving birth certificates and other import documents unavailable to them. Children would be issued a state ID within 90 days of entering the foster care system, displaying information such as the child’s Medicaid number. It would enable older children in the system to get jobs and perform other vital daily tasks. The cost would run about $5 a child. “That should be something that’s not too difficult to achieve,” Kirkpatrick said.
- Use the Safe Babies approach in Georgia courts. Between 2011 and 2018, Georgia saw a 44% increase in infants and toddlers entering foster care, more than any other Southern state. As a result, it needs a more collaborative, family-based approach to dealing with the youngest children in foster care, such as the Safe Babies approach used in Iowa. Iowa’s infant courts are adorned with quilts, diapers, toys and books, to help alleviate the trauma experienced by toddlers and infants in the court system. In a recent visit, Georgia officials saw how one Iowa judge, his court staff and attorneys dealt with a mother who became distraught during the hearing. The judge stopped the hearing, allowing attorneys and other staff to embrace the woman. The DFCS case manager and defense attorney told the woman they were there to help her figure out ways to keep her baby. “That’s super important. It’s been successful in other states,” Kirkpatrick said.
- Use opioid settlement money to finance foster care needs. Kirkpatrick called it a good idea but “it might not be that easy to accomplish. It’s not really under the legislature’s control.”
Kirkpatrick, a Republican and retired orthopedic surgeon who practiced in metro Atlanta for over 30 years, called Tuesday’s hearing extremely productive.
“I thought it was another great meeting,” she said. “We work pretty hard to get input from all the different groups. We won’t make our decisions about which things to tackle until we finish [all of] our meetings. We have one more where we’ll be getting some testimony.”
The senate committee’s next meeting is in Columbus on Oct. 26. It will focus on adoption.
“After that, we’ll get together and figure out what our legislative priorities are going to be,” Kirkpatrick said.
Want to know how many foster children have been placed in foster homes outside of your county? Go to seetheneed.org to find out. See The Need was created by Alpharetta-based FaithBridge Foster Care to raise awareness about foster care in America.
Header image: The Senate Study Committee on Foster Care and Adoption held their second meeting at the Capitol to hear testimony from citizens, nonprofits and state agency representatives. (Credit: Georgia Senate)