Kemp signs budget with bonuses, extra money for schools, health

Gov. Brian Kemp signed a budget for the next few months that includes bonuses and raises for many employees while increasing spending for schools and health care.

Per The Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Gov. Brian Kemp on Monday signed a budget for the next few months that includes bonuses for many employees and raises for some others while increasing spending for schools and health care.

The midyear budget runs through June 30 and, overall, increases state spending $654 million. Lawmakers moved quickly to pass the measure in case the General Assembly has to suspend its session because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year it put the session on hold in March for about three months because of the pandemic.

“In a year of tough, unprecedented times, today is certainly a good day,” Kemp said before signing the spending plan.

While several lawmakers and staff members have tested positive for COVID-19, there has been less talk of late about suspending this year’s session. Getting the midyear budget passed and signed eases any pressure they had felt, and now they will concentrate on approving a $27 billion budget for the upcoming year that will include about $1 billion in borrowing for construction projects.

The midyear budget Kemp signed essentially keeps the state running until the summer. The measure will provide $1,000 bonuses to most state employees and give 10% raises to prison guards.

Kemp announced the same bonuses for Georgia’s public school teachers last month.

Both bonuses are being paid — directly or indirectly — from federal COVID-19 relief funds.

The largest spending increase would be in education, where the House and Senate went along with Kemp’s proposal to backfill 60% of the spending reductions that lawmakers approved last year, when they cut 10% because of fears that state revenue would plummet due to the pandemic.

That didn’t happen. In fact, state tax collections have increased 6.3% during the first seven months of this fiscal year.

Kemp said the increased school spending “sends a clear message that even in the most challenging times, we are maintaining our commitment to Georgia students, parents, educators and staff.”

The budget will also pay for 520 new school buses, increase support for nursing homes hit hard by COVID-19 and add high-speed internet in rural areas.

It will spend $27 million to quickly modernize the Department of Public Health’s computer system that tracks immunizations and pay to hire several new staffers at the agency that has spent most of the past year fighting COVID-19.

1 year, 4 months ago

Governors in Iowa, North Dakota and Alabama join GOP colleagues in banning TikTok for state employees

The Republican governors of three more states have joined the growing number of GOP governors who are banning TikTok among state government employees amid security concerns about the Chinese-owned social media platform

1 year, 4 months ago

Arizona Governor Creates Shipping Container Border Wall

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey has had hundreds of double-stacked shipping containers topped with razor wire placed on the state’s border with Mexico

1 year, 4 months ago

Stacey Abrams’s Georgia Nonprofit Could Face Criminal Investigations for Unlicensed Fundraising

New Georgia Project's charity license has lapsed in at least nine states

1 year, 4 months ago

Biden says ‘more important things’ than border visit, despite 59 trips to Delaware, 8 stops for ice cream

Biden has yet to visit southern border despite historic crisis under his watch

1 year, 4 months ago

Governor Kristi Noem delivers annual Budget Address, says the state can afford grocery tax cut

In about thirty minutes of remarks, Governor Kristi Noem laid out her administration would like to see nearly $2.2 billion spent over the course of the next fiscal year and a half.

1 year, 4 months ago

‘A Clear And Present Danger To Its Users:’ South Carolina Gov. Bans State Employees From Using TikTok Amid National Security Concerns

South Carolina became the second state in the union Monday to permanently ban state employees’ electronic devices from using TikTok amid federal officials sounding the alarm that the Chinese-based social media app threatens national security