On the Friday Feb. 3 edition of Georgia Today: Georgians agree on the spending of the budget surplus, India gives a boost to local farmers, and some museums are free this weekend.

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Peter Biello: Welcome to the Georgia Today podcast from GPB News. Today is Friday, Feb. 3. I'm Peter Biello. On today's episode, a new poll finds Georgians mostly agree on how to spend the state's budget surplus. Georgia pecan farmers are getting a boost from India, and this weekend is a good one to head to a local museum. We'll tell you why. These stories and more are coming up on this edition of Georgia Today.


Story 1

Peter Biello: A new poll finds Georgians broadly support using the state's billion-dollar tax budget surplus for both tax relief and new spending. The poll of about 11,000 registered voters shows Georgians of both major parties support large tax rebates. The Georgia Budget and Policy Institute's Danny Kanso says state Republicans are pushing for exactly that.

Danny Kanso: Georgians do want that. They do want more money in their pockets, and that makes sense and certainly echoes other findings from this poll where folks want to see the state do a bit more.

Peter Biello: The poll also finds overwhelming bipartisan support for Medicaid expansion, something Gov. Brian Kemp and GOP leaders oppose.

Story 2

Peter Biello: India is cutting its tariffs on U.S. pecan exports by 70% in a move expected to boost Georgia farmers. Will Bentley of the Georgia Agribusiness Council says lowering pecan tariffs to India has been a priority for Georgia lawmakers for years.

Will Bentley: It may take a little while to develop that market and develop those channels in India to get our product over there. But once we can develop that product, figure out how they like to best enjoy Georgia pecans then I think it's going to have a direct impact on — on Georgia farms' bottom line.

Peter Biello: The state leads the nation in pecan production, a $383 million a year industry in Georgia. The announcement on tariffs came this week from the office of U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff, who says he met seven times over the last year with India's ambassador to the U.S. over this and other issues.



Story 3

Peter Biello: Admission to more than 100 museums and historic sites in Georgia will be free this weekend as part of Georgia's annual Super Museum Sunday. GPB's Benjamin Payne has the details.

Benjamin Payne: What began in the 1980s as a free day of admission to museums in Savannah's Chatham County has since expanded across the Peach State. Super Museum Sunday, as it's called, includes not just arts and history museums, but all of Georgia's 17 state historic sites such as the Dahlonega Gold Museum and Kolomoki Mounds in Southwest Georgia. Elyse Butler is with the Georgia Historical Society, which organizes Super Museum Sunday.

Elyse Butler: The Georgia Historical Society wanted to expand the reach so citizens across the state would be able to go out and enjoy what's there in their own backyard. It's meant to be a teaser, so they'll come back and enjoy repeat visitation.

Benjamin Payne: New this year to the event is the Vintage Kitchens Museum in South Georgia's Ben Hill County. For GPB News, I'm Benjamin Payne.

Peter Biello: For a full list of participating museums and their hours of free admission on Sunday, visit our website: GPB.org.


Story 4

Peter Biello: A bill has been introduced in the Georgia House of Representatives that would allow cities to experiment with instant runoff voting in nonpartisan municipal elections. In instant runoff voting, voters rank candidates in order of preference. Runoffs have garnered criticism in recent years from voters and politicians alike, including Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, whose department oversees elections. House Bill 200 has picked up bipartisan support.



Bunnie Jackson-Ransom

Former first lady of Atlanta, Bunnie Jackson-Ransom

Credit: NAACP / via Twitter

Story 5

Peter Biello: Former Atlanta first lady Bunnie Jackson-Ransom has passed away. GPB's Devon Zwald reports.

Devon Zwald: Bunnie Jackson-Ransom has died at age 82. She was a former first lady of Atlanta and ex-wife of the city's first Black mayor, Maynard Jackson. Current Mayor Andre Dickens said in a statement Thursday that Jackson-Ransom was an accomplished businesswoman, educator and author. He said he will forever remember her for her lively spirit and boundless energy. Last month, Atlanta magazine named her one of 2023 Atlanta 500 professionals in the Legends category. For GPB News, I'm Devon Zwald.


Story 6

Peter Biello: A farm in Gwinnett County is providing job opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to work with produce and animals. GPB's Amanda Andrews visited Peachtree Farms.

Amanda Andrews: Joe Twiner started the farm in the spring of 2021 To create jobs that are accessible and engaging for people of all abilities. Right now he has four employees on the farm and 32 students in vocational training from Norcross High School. The farm has a greenhouse and 16 garden beds where they grow tomatoes, squash, beans, peppers and, of course, peaches to sell at nearby farmers markets. Twiner says people with disabilities need more options.

Joe Twiner: Independence is something that we all want and to be independent, you really need to be able to move where you want to move live, where you want to live and do what you want to do with your life.

Amanda Andrews: In the next 10 years, Twiner plans to expand to adjacent land and add 45 beds for people with disabilities to live and work independently. For GPB News, I'm Amanda Andrews.


Story 7

Peter Biello: Columbus native Ma Rainey is among eight musicians to be honored with the Lifetime Achievement Awards at this Sunday's Grammy Awards. The director of the city's Ma Rainey House and Blues Museum is among those making the trip to Los Angeles to recognize the Georgian known as the mother of the Blues.

Ma Rainey (singing): I'm so unhappy. I feel so blue.

Peter Biello: Rainey died 84 years ago at a time when women and people of color often weren't credited for their achievements. Other Lifetime Achievement Grammy winners this year include Nirvana, Bobby McFerrin and The Supremes.


All right, that's it for this edition of Georgia Today. Thanks, as always, for listening. And if you haven't subscribed to this podcast yet, take a moment and do it now before your weekend gets busy. That way we will be right back there in your podcast feed on Monday afternoon.

And if you've got feedback, we'd love to hear it. Send us an email. The address is GeorgiaToday@GPB.org. I'm Peter Biello. Thanks again for listening. Have a great weekend.


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