Study: HB 87 could cost state $1 billion? - CBS46 News

Study: HB 87 could cost state $1 billion?

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ATLANTA (CBS46) -

Recent studies released by the Georgia Restaurant Association and the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association paint a dark picture for the impact of HB 87.

According to Karen Bremer, the Executive Director for the Georgia Restaurant Association, workers who held jobs as dishwashers, line cooks, or janitors in restaurants are fleeing the state in droves costing restaurant owners thousands of dollars in lost sales.

"When asked about current labor availability, three quarters of the restaurants surveyed are experiencing a labor shortage," said Bremer. "Workers are scared to come to Georgia."

Bremer said despite Georgia's 10 percent unemployment rate owners report Georgians are not stepping up to fill the positions.

It is a similar situation, according to Charles Hall, with the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association.

"Food in America is a national security issue," Hall said. "If we can't solve the immigration problem in the U.S. we may be dependant on food just like we are on foreign oil."

According to their study, the effects on Georgia's agricultural economy have been devastating.

Hall said $300 million is the estimated loss in harvested crops statewide, $1 billion dollars in total economic impact on Georgia's economy and untold millions in the losses to the economies of small towns and farmers dependent on immigrant labor.

Hall said the labor shortage is so prolific, many farmers, are re-thinking how they will farm next year.

"We don't expect any increase in acreage," said Hall. "We could see some fruits and vegetables converted to agronomics crops, corn, soy beans, cotton. You can harvest all of those crops with a machine, rather than a person."

State Representative Matt Ramsey from Peachtree City authored the bill. He told CBS Atlanta's Mike Paluska he does not believe the numbers are true. Ramsey said the law will save tax payers more money than it will cost them by keeping illegal workers out of the state, which includes keeping the tax payer from paying the burden for schools, hospitals, and prison system, Ramsey added.

Gov. Nathan Deal has said that HB 87 will save Georgia billions of dollars a year in lost revenue from illegal immigrants living in the state.

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