The bill was approved by a vote of 40-14. Among those who would be exempt: 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 or people receiving unemployment benefits.
The Department of Human Services would create a five-county pilot program before taking the initiative statewide. The price tag on the pilot program is estimated at $23 million, with statewide implementation expected to cost $772 million.
Sen. William Ligon, the bill’s sponsor, says the legislation is intended to help underemployed Georgians get the professional development training they need to better themselves.
“The goal of this bill is simple — to lessen the public’s dependency on government entitlement programs while also encouraging a greater measure of self-sufficiency and personal accountability,” Ligon said.
Democrats opposed the bill. Sen. Gloria Butler told colleagues that she received food stamps as a young mother who found herself unemployed and would’ve found such legislation “devastating.”
“I needed money for food, I needed money for gas,” Butler said. “I needed money for the bare necessities of life. All of what I thought I had put together fell through.”