Under state law, the governor sets an estimate of how much lawmakers can appropriate. If he wants something big - like extra money for the coronavirus - he has to raise that estimate by essentially coming up with the extra money.
The state’s rainy day fund has about $2.8 billion in it, or enough to run state government for a month without additional revenue.
State officials said Tuesday they had transferred the first patient who tested positive for the disease to a state park used to isolate and monitor Georgians exposed to the illness.
“Widespread occurrence of this virus is a serious threat to our health systems, our vulnerable citizens, and the economic engine of our state,” Kemp said in a letter to House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, and Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan.
“Ensuring that Georgia has the resources at hand to enable us to respond quickly and thoroughly to prevent its spread within our borders is paramount to keeping citizens safe, maintaining the stability of our health network and mitigating impact to our economy.”
Ralston quickly backed the move.
“Speaker Ralston fully supports Governor Kemp’s request for the additional $100 million to address any coronavirus-related needs,” said his spokesman Kaleb McMichen. “Speaker Ralston is committed to ensuring adequate resources are available, and he is confident in the federal, state and local personnel who are working tirelessly to manage this situation.”
Kemp noted the significance of using the rainy day reserves for the crisis, something governors typically only do in fiscal emergencies like a severe recession.
“I do not make the recommendation to draw from this account lightly,” he said. “However, the spread of coronavirus represents an immediate and unforeseen threat to the state.”