ATLANTA — On Wednesday, 13WMAZ's Chelsea Beimfohr sat down with Governor Brian Kemp at his office in the State Capitol to talk about transitioning into office.
Q: What’s your biggest accomplishment so far since taking office?
A: "Well I think just rolling out a great team through our transition. We've got a lot of experienced people that believe in smaller, limited government and doing more with less. Really working on the priorities of things I promised to people during the campaign, like going after street gangs and drug cartels. Doing a teacher pay raise to help combat 44 percent of our teachers leaving the profession within the first five years. School safety--we've got some good stuff in the budget for school safety, like a $30,000 grant for all 2,294 schools in our state."
Q: Can you elaborate more on the proposed Georgia Bureau of Investigation gang task force?
A: "The budget I proposed does have a half a million dollars in it to create a gang task force within the GBI, which will be seasoned investigators and prosecutors that understand gangs, and not only doing the joint operations or assisting the locals, but arresting gang members and going after them on the street, and also getting them prosecuted and getting them locked up and put away. That's the big key, if you don't know how to prosecute gangs, it can get kind of tricky. This is not just the GBI running point on this whole thing. This is going to be a partnership with all folks at the local level.
Q: Constitutional carry has gotten a lot of press lately. What are your views on that and the bill that’s been proposed, which would not require Georgians to have a permit to carry in public?
A: "I'm not really commenting on that. There’s all kinds of pieces of legislation that are in. I’ve said and I’ll continue to be a strong supporter of the second amendment. I hunt and I shoot and I carry. I won't just support, but I’ll advocate. We’ll see what the legislature wants to roll out this year. My positions from the campaign have not changed."
Q: What's the plan to increase internet access in rural Georgia?
A: "We are working with legislators. That is one of my top priorities and part of an early plan I had to strengthen rural Georgia. We've got to deal with healthcare, broadband, etc. I want people's potential not to be decided by their zip code or what county they live in. I want everyone in the state to have opportunities wherever they live. That is my focus. We're doing a lot of things to move the needle there."
Q: Teacher pay—obviously teachers are excited about this potential increase you've named. When might teachers actually start to see that in their paycheck?
A: "The teacher pay raise is in the 2020 budget, so that wouldn’t go into effect until July of this year. We got to finish the rest of the fiscal year out, which ends on June 30th. But we got to keep that teacher pay raise in the budget. I would encourage people to talk to their legislators and let them know that they support this effort. It’s a big down payment on my promise to raise teacher pay by $5,000. Everyone I've talked to seems to be very supportive of this.
Q: A lot of democrats have been calling for paper ballots or a new system. So what are the plans for a new Georgia voting system?
A: "The legislature couldn’t ever reach an agreement last year. So I created the SAFE commission. They came out with the recommendations for a system that has a ballot marking device and paper verifiable audit trail, which I support. You get the best of both worlds with the recommendation that SAFE came out with. That being said the legislature has to weigh in on that--that’s happening right now--but I'm very confident we will get a bill done this year."
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