It was widely reported yesterday that the Georgia Senate passed SB 312, a bill that would require food stamp recipients to earn their GED, pursue technical education, attend personal development classes of some kind, or enroll in adult literacy classes. The text of the original bill can be found in this earlier post. I took a quick look this morning and I don’t see any significant amendments to the bill as introduced, but you can investigate for yourself by following the history of the bill here (bottom of the page).
According to USA Today, the bill exempts people under 16 or over 59; the mentally or physically disabled; people working at least 30 hours a week; students; participants in alcohol or drug rehabilitation programs, caretakers for a dependent child under six years of age or for an incapacitated adult or people receiving unemployment benefits. The Georgia Department of Human Services would create a five-county pilot program before taking the initiative statewide.
But I don’t see any reports, or any language in the bill or amendments, suggesting that an increase to adult education funding is included as part of this initiative. The intent of the bill, according Sen. William Ligon, the bill’s sponsor, was “to help underemployed Georgians get the professional development training they need to better themselves.” I would have assumed that an initiative intended to—and that likely will—increase demand for adult education services would include additional funding for those services. Perhaps there are separate efforts underway to make more funding available.
Another source reports that the Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts estimates the pilot program will cost $23 million, and statewide implementation expected to cost $772 million. But I don’t think those costs include additional state investment in adult education services. I’d love to be wrong!
Of course, there is also a question as to whether it’s fair or makes sense to mandate unrelated and possibly (for some) unrealistic requirements to a program that is designed to provide a very minimal level of food security to poor people. There are often good reasons why people are not be able to participate in training programs or adult education, including lack of transportation and/or lack of appropriate services.