Economy, public safety top Georgia Senate GOP’s legislative priorities

Credit: arvin.temkar@ajc.com

Credit: arvin.temkar@ajc.com

Rattling off a list of legislative priorities similar to the ones Georgians heard from Gov. Brian Kemp the day before, the Senate Republican Caucus on Thursday unveiled its agenda for the 2023 session.

Several of the priorities announced mirror Kemp’s proposals — including providing income and property tax rebates to Georgians and sending money to schools to tackle safety issues.

Senate Majority Leader Steve Gooch, R-Dahlonega, said the chamber’s Republican-led committees will also be reviewing the state’s tax credits, expanding the use of telehealth services in the state’s rural and poor communities, and working to improve literacy rates. Gooch said there are more than 200 tax credits, deductions and exemptions on the books, and each should be reviewed to see how effective it has been.

“The wheels of this process started moving last year,” Gooch said. “A report is due later this year, however I anticipate a thorough discussion during the session.”

After a few years of tension between the GOP Caucus and the former lieutenant governor, Lt. Gov. Burt Jones joined most of the chamber’s 32 Republicans for the press conference.

Credit: arvin.temkar@ajc.com

Credit: arvin.temkar@ajc.com

“I’m proud to stand before you with our Senate majority caucus here,” Jones said. “We are here to announce our priorities for the legislative session.”

Democrats on Wednesday unveiled their own priorities, which serve as a wish list for a future when they again hold a majority in the Legislature. Democrats said they will push measures to create a $15 state minimum wage, hike teacher pay by $10,000 annually — as opposed to the $2,000 boost Kemp is proposing this year — expand civil rights protections and repeal anti-abortion laws. All are unlikely to gain any traction.