James.qxp Nov Dec 2018 web - Page 36



While these types of employment-related
decisions/outcomes impact individual workers and their
families, they also have a direct economic impact on
Georgia’s bottom line. The annual loss to the state economy is estimated at $1.75 billion with a subsequent lost
tax revenue of $105 million.
Currently, Georgia can proudly tout itself as “the number 1 place to do business.” However, if it aims to maintain that status and successfully attract and keep business
and industry, the state’s leaders must ensure that the workforce has access to quality child care and early learning. As
previously noted, Georgia’s early learning industry generates more than $4.7 billion in economic activity annually,
which puts the industry on par with other important sectors of Georgia’s economy such as hospitality, pharmaceuticals, and home health care. These industries, however,
receive significant state support in the form of tax credits,
training support programs, and other subsidies, whereas
the early learning industry does not.
Given that the lack of quality child care options costs
the state nearly $2 billion annually, there is no question
that Georgia’s government and business leaders should
be engaging in innovative ways to support increased
access to early learning for all families and ensuring that
the care is affordable. With the average annual cost of
infant center-based care in Georgia hovering around
$7,597, an amount that exceeds the annual cost of college
tuition in Georgia, there are few affordable child care
options available for low to median income families.
Seeing an opportunity for the business sector to join
this conversation, GEEARS developed a tool kit for
businesses that outlines how they can help their
employees meet this vital need. Recommendations
range from big investments such as on-site child care
to simply helping families find child care and adopting
family friendly practices. Businesses can even receive a
10 percent federal tax credit to contract with Child Care
Resource and Referral Agencies to help families find
child care within their budget.
Beyond the business community, our elected leaders also have a vital role to play by advancing budget
priorities that are responsive to the needs of young children and their families and expand access to early
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JAMES
N OV E M B E R / D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 8
learning and promote child well-being. In a recent poll
of Georgia voters, GEEARS found that over 90 percent
of respondents said it was important to ensure working
parents can find quality, affordable child care for their
infants and toddlers. Moreover, 76 percent of voters
support expanding the amount of state funding that
provides child care scholarships for infants and toddlers
of low-income, working parents.
The importance of early learning has become increasingly visible in recent years, only reemphasizing what
educators have known for quite some time: high quality
learning is the building block for student success. In
Georgia, we now know that high quality early learning is
also the building block for community and state economic growth. But, the long-term commitment of resources is
necessary and leaders from across government, business,
and local communities have a role to play.
Dr. Dana Rickman is Vice President at the Georgia Partnership
for Excellence in Education.
I
n Georgia, the Professional Licensing Boards
Division of the Secretary of State’s office (PLBD)
administers the licensing and regulatory functions
of 41 different professional licensing boards and the more
than 500,000 individual licensees those boards represent.
With occupations ranging from nurses, engineers and
architects, to barbers and cosmetologists, it is not difficult
to imagine the challenges of
just one office providing services across so many different
types of professions with wildly
varying examinations, applications, service calls, complaints
and disciplinary investigations.
To add to that difficulty, the
PLBD is forced to operate on a
budget that is less than half of
what all of those licensing boards
collect in fees each year. While the
licensing fees and fines assessed by
all the licensing boards within the
PLBD cumulatively generate approximately $20 million per year into the
state’s general fund, the PLBD’s annual
budget appropriation out of that general fund is only around $8 million.
The result? A PLBD that is
severely underfunded by the General
Assembly, making it difficult to provide a reasonable service level
across all the professions it serves.
Of course, this isn’t the secretary
of state’s fault. The office is forced to
operate within the budget appropriated to
them by the General Assembly. Nevertheless, the
approximately $12 million between what those 500,000
licensees are paying to the state for licensing services
and the cost of services they actually receive result in a
de facto tax on those professionals for which they
receive nothing in return. This is in direct contravention
of O.C.G.A. 43-1-7, which requires that “the total amount
of fees charged by the professional licensing board shall
approximate the total of the direct and indirect costs to
the state of the operations of the board.”
As a result, several licensing boards have fought to
achieve some level of independence in an effort to obtain
an improved service level for their licensees.
For example, a 1977 court case brought by the Georgia
Real Estate Commission declared that if the state did not
appropriate all of the license fees that it collected for regulation of the Commission, then the state should reduce the
license fees to a level commensurate with its actual
expenditures. In response to this court ruling, the
General Assembly removed the Commission from
the PLDB budget and made the Commission a
separate budget unit with its own line item in
the state budget, allowing them to set their
own service level and collect licensing fees
based on the cost of delivering that
level of service. With around 90,000
licensed real estate professionals
paying its costs, the Commission
operated with approximately
$3 million for FY2018.
In 2013, both the pharmacy and dentistry boards
were removed from the
PLBD and placed under
the Department of
Community Health
(DCH). Similarly, in
2014, the Georgia State
Board of Accountancy was
placed under the State
Accounting Office. Unlike
the realtors, none of these
boards were made a separate
budgetary unit and are, therefore,
still at the mercy of the annual
appropriations process for the state agencies they are
assigned to for administrative purposes.
In 2018, the nursing board fought unsuccessfully to be
placed under DCH like the dentists and pharmacists.
Their belief was that DCH would be a more appropriate
agency for regulating the nursing profession, with its
much higher need to protect the public continued on page 38
N OV E M B E R / D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 8
37

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