ATLANTA — Gov. Brian Kemp intends to boost the pay of state employees by $2,000 a year, he announced Thursday, and has several cash programs in store for his second term.
The governor made the announcement during remarks at the inaugural ceremonies for his second term.
During the address, Kemp laid out several proposals that could soon bring some dollars in the pockets of Georgia taxpayers: (UPDATE: You can download the governor's released budget now online here.)
- $2,000 pay raise for all state employees. He specifically highlighted state law enforcement agents, teachers, pre-K teachers and other certified K-12 personnel.
- $150 million in one-time grant opportunities to local school districts. Kemp said these could go to security initiatives, programs to address learning loss to to help para-pros become fully certified teachers.
- $1 billion in an income tax refund. Kemp made this promise on the campaign trail last year, and it would be largely similar to the $250-$500 payments that were sent to Georgia taxpayers last year. The money comes out of the state's budget surplus. (Update: The governor's proposed budget confirms this will work the same as last year, with $250-$500 surplus payments.)
- $1.1 billion in tax relief grants to homeowners. Kemp said this would "help you with rising local property tax bills." How much these payments could total and exactly how someone would be eligible were not immediately clear. (Update: The governor's proposed budget calls for a $20,000 exemption that his proposal says will result in an average savings of $500.)
Kemp said he will release his budget proposals on Friday.
"The budgets my office will release tomorrow make historic investments in our schools, our safety, our citizens and our future," Kemp said during the address. "These budgets cut taxes, return billions back to taxpayers and fund our priorities. One of these many priorities is our state employee - any business or organization is only as good as its people, and I'm so proud of everything the public servants throughout our state have done and accomplished throughout the last few years. But the truth is high turnover and pandemic burnout have made tough jobs even harder, from the classroom to the state patrol.
"If you wanna keep good people in jobs critical to the safety and wellbeing of our children, our communities and our state as a whole, we must be willing to be competitive with state salaries," he added, explaining the pay raise proposal.