(The Center Square) — The Georgia governor’s PR machine worked overtime Friday, a day after he was sworn in for his second term, releasing net tax collection details and trumpeting his amended fiscal 2023 and fiscal 2024 budgets.
Gov. Brian Kemp’s amended fiscal 2023 budget increases the approved $30.2 billion budget by about 7.8% to nearly $32.6 billion. The governor’s proposed fiscal 2024 budget of more than $32.4 billion is slightly less than his proposed fiscal 2023 adjustment.
Kemp released his budget proposal shortly after state officials announced Georgia’s net tax collections surpassed $3.2 billion in December, an increase of 7.5%, or $224.9 million, from a year ago. Additionally, year-to-date net tax collections increased 6.5% to more than $15.8 billion, an increase of $966.6 million over the last fiscal year.
“At a time when hardworking Georgians across our state are feeling the effects of Washington, DC’s broken agenda in their wallet, we are putting you and your families first because that’s your money, not the government’s,” Kemp said during his Thursday inaugural address where he laid out most of his plans.
The amended fiscal 2023 budget proposal includes $1 billion in “undesignated regular surplus” for taxpayer refunds between $250 and $500. It also includes $1.1 billion for one-time Homeowner Tax Relief Grants to provide a $20,000 credit on the assessed home value for homesteads for the 2023 tax year.
The budget includes $105 million for the University System of Georgia to implement a state-of-the-art electronic medical records system at the Medical College of Georgia. It also proposes more than $129.3 million for the Technical College System of Georgia to design and build new and existing Quick Start facilities to support the electric vehicle industry.
It also includes more than $500 million in education spending, including a more than $128.2 million midterm adjustment in the Quality Basic Education program.
“Governor Kemp’s budget proposals include more than $500 million in additional K-12 investments, including a salary increase for Georgia’s hardworking teachers and dedicated funding to improve school safety, address the impact of lost learning opportunities, help paraprofessionals pursue teaching certification, and add more school counselors,” State School Superintendent Richard Woods said in a Thursday statement. “This is a budget designed to ensure a strong public education for Georgia’s 1.7 million public school students.”
The fiscal 2024 budget includes more than $566.9 million to give state employees, including certified K-12 personnel, a $2,000 cost-of-living raise. It includes nearly $87.4 million to give the same adjustment to full-time University System of Georgia employees.
By T.A. DeFeo | The Center Square contributor