State budget watchdog director stepping down

Alan Essig, longtime executive director of the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, is stepping down at the end of March.

Essig, who has led the left-leaning group since its inception in 2004, is following his wife to Lansing, Michigan, home of Michigan State University, where she accepted an academic position.

He will be replaced by Taifa Smith Butler, who has been the organization’s deputy director since 2011. Prior to joining the group, she served as the policy and communications director for Georgia Family Connection Partnership where she co-managed the Georgia KIDS COUNT project and monitored public policy and its impact on children, families and communities.

Essig was a state budget analyst before taking over the institute. The organization, which advocates for increased social service and education spending, has frequently been at odds with Republican administrations and lawmakers. The organization has been especially critical of state budget cuts to education and many of the special-interest tax breaks lawmakers annually dole out.

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