Tax cuts and historic investments: Another year of wins for Georgians

We kept the financial well-being of Georgians front and center.
Georgia Gov. Brian P. Kemp delivers the State of the State address in January. (Office of the Governor)

Credit: handout

Credit: handout

Georgia Gov. Brian P. Kemp delivers the State of the State address in January. (Office of the Governor)

For far too long, Washington, D.C., has been a source of bloated budgets, credit downgrades, partisan gridlock, burdensome government red tape and one-size-fits-none mandates that threaten economic growth and success.

Here in Georgia, however, we’ve just completed another legislative session full of major victories for hardworking people across the state.

During this year’s State of the State address, I laid out a bold vision for what could and should be tackled during the annual meeting of the General Assembly.

Failed federal policies and reckless spending helped create one of the worst inflationary crises in more than 40 years — wreaking havoc on the wallets of Georgians at the grocery store, the gas pump and everywhere else.

Since the start of 2021, consumer prices have risen by 18.6 percent nationwide, food prices have gone up by 21.2 percent, and the national average for gas is more than 59 percent higher.

Georgia Gov. Brian P. Kemp (R) addresses the House of Representatives at the Capitol in Atlanta on Sine Die, the last day of the legislative session, on March 28. (Arvin Temkar/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution/TNS)

Credit: TNS

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Credit: TNS

While typical gridlock and fuzzy math took hold in Washington, D.C., Georgia, as a state, prioritized delivering relief by putting more than $5 billion in property tax relief, multiple suspensions of the gas and diesel tax, and income tax refunds back in the pockets of hardworking Georgians.

This year, along with our partners in the legislature, we kept the financial well-being of Georgians front and center with an eye on the future.

In this latest session, we successfully passed legislation that accelerates the historic income tax cut we passed in 2022, which will save Georgia’s taxpayers $3 billion over the next 10 years.

And because we’ve budgeted wisely over the past five years, we’re able to do this while investing in education at unprecedented levels, providing funding for more literacy coaches and new school buses, and again raising pay for educators by $2,500. That translates to a total salary increase of $9,500 since I took office. We also made school security grants a permanent part of the base budget, ensuring we keep those in our classrooms safe.

And all of this was accomplished while delivering on the promise to give parents and students greater choice on how and where they receive their education.

Thanks to the dedicated work of the GRACE Commission, led by first lady Marty Kemp, we also kept up the fight against human trafficking by passing a ninth piece of significant legislation.

State law enforcement officers will also be receiving an additional pay raise of $3,000 this year, allowing us to retain quality talent and recruit additional officers by offering competitive pay and new benefits, such as the Peace Officer Loan repayment program we passed this session. Because despite what out-of-touch activists and domestic terrorists might say, we need more police officers, not fewer.

And we continue to make progress in expanding quality, affordable health care in our state. Though not often reported, since I took office, we’ve helped almost a million people receive private health insurance coverage through the Georgia Access program. But there is still more work to do, particularly in the area of mental health.

The fiscal 2025 budget includes critical funding for the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities and other entities for the purpose of treating mental health — keeping to the vision that was laid out by the late speaker David Ralston.

As a result, we will be spending more than $1.6 billion on mental health — more than ever before.

The budget also includes funding to expand the Georgia Gang Prosecution Unit and establish an Organized Retail Crime and Cyber Prosecution Unit, as well as a $1.5 billion investment in our state’s infrastructure in the amended fiscal 2024 budget.

But this is just a small fraction of what was accomplished this year. While D.C. politicians continue to fall deeper into gridlock and chaos, Georgians can count on us to put their needs first and continue to take decisive action that’s forward thinking and fiscally responsible.

By keeping to that commitment, we will keep Georgia the best place in the country to live, work and raise a family.