Call to Action: Advocate for Georgia Public Health Funding!

If there’s one thing this pandemic has taught us, it’s that investing in public health makes us all stronger and safer. Gov. Kemp has proposed a 2022 budget that includes only a 0.3% (less than $900k) increase in our state’s public health budget. Georgia’s public health infrastructure has long been underfunded. We’re 37th among states for public health spending, and if lawmakers go along with this budget, Georgia will be spending 13% less per resident on public health than it did a decade ago, despite the pandemic.

Please contact your lawmakers to ask them to make funding our Department of Public Health a serious priority. (Much of this text was taken from Dr. Amber Schmidtke’s public health blog: https://amberschmidtkephd.substack.com/)

Contact information

Please contact the members of the Georgia House and Senate appropriations subcommittees that will determine the budget allocation for the DPH. Non-committee representatives and senators then get to vote up or down on what the committee recommends. The subcommittees are vitally important.

Members of the House Health Subcommittee on Appropriations

Debbie Buckner (404-656-0116 or 706-269-3630)
Matt Dollar (404-463-7853)
Lee Hawkins (404-656-7855)
Carolyn Hugley (404-656-0109)
Butch Parrish (404-463-2246 or 478-237-3838)
Jesse Petrea (404-656-7857 or 912-629-2468)
Ron Stephens (404-656-5115 or 912-596-1998)
Darlene Taylor (404-656-7857 or 229-225-9943)

You can send an email to them all at once by copying and pasting these into your recipients line: debbie.buckner@house.ga.gov, matt.dollar@house.ga.gov, lee.hawkins@house.ga.gov, carolyn.hugley@house.ga.gov, butch.parrish@house.ga.gov, jesse.petrea@house.ga.gov, ron.stephens@house.ga.gov, darlene.taylor@house.ga.gov

Members of the Senate Subcommittee on Appropriations for Human Development and Public Health

Dean Burke (404-656-0040 or 229-243-6267)
Emanuel Jones (404-656-0502 or 770-294-3020)
Kay Kirkpatrick (404-656-3932 or 404-656-3932)
Butch Miller (404-656-6578)
Nan Orrock (404-463-8054 or 404-524-5999)
Lindsey Tippins (404-657-0406 or 770-424-2700)
Ben Watson (404-656-7880 or 912-527-5100)

Emails:
dean.burke@senate.ga.gov, emanuel.jones@senate.ga.gov, kay.kirkpatrick@senate.ga.gov, butch.miller@senate.ga.gov, nan.orrock@senate.ga.gov, lindsey.tippins@senate.ga.gov, ben.watson@senate.ga.gov

What to say

Here’s a suggested script for what to say when you call or email subcommittee members. These are the people you need to contact most right now. Feel free to modify the script, especially if you have had personal impacts from COVID-19 or other public health concerns.

Hi, my name is (____) and I am a registered voter who lives at (____). I’m contacting you today to ask you to consider increased funding for the Georgia Department of Public Health, above the Governor’s budget request, since you’re a member of the (House or Senate << say which!)) appropriations subcommittee that oversees DPH. This pandemic has highlighted the need for us to shore up public health infrastructure from top to bottom so that we can combat not just COVID-19 but many other areas where Georgia lags behind other states. Thank you for your time and your service to the state.

Phone calls are typically more impactful than emails, but you can do either or both. When you contact these individuals, know you’re a number being counted. So you can count once via email, or you can count 2 or 3 times if you email, call their capitol office and call their district office. You can count on multiple days, too. When you call, remember that you will be speaking to a staffer, not the elected official themselves. They are there to take a message. So please be polite and respectful. The same is true for email.

If you want to, you can also contact your own state house representative and senator (you can find yours here):

Hi, my name is (____). I’m a registered voter and one of your constituents who lives at (____). I’m contacting you because I’m very concerned about the state of public health in Georgia. This pandemic has highlighted the need for us to shore up public health infrastructure from top to bottom so that we can combat not just COVID-19 but many other areas where Georgia lags behind other states. I’ve been in touch with members of the House and Senate appropriations subcommittees that determine the budget for the Georgia Department of Public Health and asked that they increase funding for public health. Please do all within your power to support increased funding for the DPH as well. Thank you for your time and your service to the state.

Receiving these contacts from their constituents is going to make your representative and/or senator take notice. It signals that you’re serious not just about public health, but about voting. Again, be respectful. Hopefully our collective efforts work. When that time comes, we’ll do this again, but to thank the members for their support of public health. We need that support not just for this year but the years to come.

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