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Abrams vs. Kemp: Are their policies possible?

Gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams campaigns at Morehouse College. Photo by Vanessa Johnson | The Signal

In one of the most watched gubernatorial races in the nation, Republican Brian Kemp and Democrat Stacey Abrams have been relentless in rallying their bases to increase voter participation and involvement.

For both candidates, one of the hardest issues they will address is the lack of executive power the governor’s office holds, according to associate professor of political science Daniel Franklin.

“In policy making, the governor is very involved. In terms of carrying out policy, not so much,” he said. “The constitutional officers of the state are elected independently of the governor. That’s basically the governor’s cabinet.”

Because of this, whoever becomes governor will have to work with a secretary of state and other constitutional officers that may be from a different party, which could hinder the governor’s agenda.

ABRAMS

One topic that hits close to home for Georgia State students is education. Abrams has said both on her website and on the campaign trail that she is a proponent for expanding the HOPE scholarship, giving more youth access to college and putting more funding into public schools.

“I believe in free access to technical college, debt-free, four-year college and need-based aid as a priority in Georgia,” Abrams said in a campaign ad on her website.

Dr. Daniel Lanford, a professor in sociology and political science at Georgia State, provided a breakdown of Abrams’ policies.

“Shielding public schools from privatization will be possible with veto power, but she will [likely] have to use that power,” Lanford said.

One of Abrams’ goals for education expansion is to adopt the Bold Start Scholarship program, which helps provide funding for families in need of daycare and early childhood education.

“Programs such as the Bold Start Scholarship, summer employment and civic engagement activities, student loan debt-pathways, and wrap-around support for struggling students are common sense and also seem to have positive results in academic studies. These programs may find bipartisan support if the economy holds,” Lanford said.

Another issue that Abrams wishes to address is healthcare. She wants to “expand Medicaid in Georgia and lower premiums” and “support and safeguard women’s health and a woman’s right to choose,” according to her website.

Lanford said that liberal healthcare reform is possible, but only if Democrats control Georgia’s congress.

“Expanding Medicaid will become more likely if Abrams takes the governorship and a Democratic wave convinces Republicans they can and should support such a measure. Republicans will want a compromise measure though – something that involves a ‘waiver’ that increases restrictions on benefits from what is now standard with the Affordable Care Act. If Abrams pulls hard for Medicaid expansion and successfully [explains] to the public how the program will benefit working class people and people in both rural and urban areas, she may be able to get a Republican legislature to compromise,” he said.

According to Franklin, Abrams will have to be careful not to brand the new healthcare plan “Obamacare” or any other name that may cause Republicans to be readily against it.

KEMP

Secretary of State Brian Kemp has established a “4 Point Plan to Put Georgians First,” that he plans to initiate if he becomes governor.

“He will lower insurance costs, ensure access to quality care, expand insurance options, cover Georgians with pre-existing conditions and spur innovation to address systemic healthcare challenges in our state. Above all, Brian Kemp will put patients – not the status quo or well-funded special interests – first,” according to Kemp’s website.

Lanford said Kemp’s plan to keep premiums low so that individuals will not have to pay as much out of pocket might cause negative side effects.

“It may be easier for Kemp to keep premium growth at a minimum compared to Abrams. This is because he supports the availability of plans that cover less,” he said.

“Besides the clear risks for people on these plans, there is the other problem that some healthier people will leave more comprehensive plans for skimpier plans, leaving behind less healthy people who will then have to pay much higher premiums. It’s not as clear this will be a money saver in the end.”

Another avenue for lower healthcare costs that Kemp may approach, according to Lanford, is to lower prescription drug costs.

“Lowering the cost of prescription drugs is possible, but will require creativity, especially for Kemp. He has a tendency to oppose regulations on private industry. Unregulated, the price of prescription drugs is likely to continue rising,” he said.

One of the most controversial proposals by Kemp is the removal of sanctuary cities. Clarkston, is home to not only to one of Georgia State’s perimeter campuses but also a large population of unauthorized Somali nationals, which classifies it as a sanctuary city.

“For months, I’ve worked with local prosecutors like District Attorney Vic Reynolds, members of the GBI, and many in this room to develop plans to deport criminal aliens and crush street gangs. As governor, I will lead on Law and Order. I refuse to accept the status quo or back down from the radical left,” Kemp said.

Franklin said the City of Clarkston, and even Atlanta, exists purely because the state government allows them to.

“They exist at the pleasure and permission of the state government. The state government can punish Clarkston for being a sanctuary city and can influence that and influence Clarkston, including legislating it out of existence,” he said. “The governor has a lot of authority in terms of having the state police cooperate with [Immigration and Customs Enforcement],” Franklin said.

With the issues analyzed, it’s only a matter of time before the votes are in and a governor is chosen. As with past elections, it’s unclear whether the candidates will keep their promises or how long it will take them to enact them.

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