Typically, the midyear budget is used to fund school enrollment and increased costs for Medicaid, the state-federal health care program for the poor, disabled and nursing care.
But after ending fiscal 2021 with a $3.7 billion surplus, and now seven months of continual revenue growth, Kemp and lawmakers are thinking big. Kemp has proposed sending $1.6 billion back to taxpayers when they file their income tax returns this year.
The midyear plan includes more than $500 million to give about 100,000 state and University System of Georgia employees a $5,000 raise. State officials hope raises will help stem the high turnover rate among state workers, many of whom have seen little or no salary boost in recent years.
Full-time k-12 employees — such as teachers and staff — would receive a $2,000 bonus payment, while part-timers would get $1,000. Teachers are expected to be offered a $2,000 raise in fiscal 2023, allowing Kemp to meet his 2018 campaign promise of giving them a $5,000 increase over the course of his first term.
The spending plan includes about $390 million to restore spending cuts to k-12 schools that lawmakers approved in 2020, when reductions were made in anticipation that the COVID-19 pandemic would bring a severe recession.
The midyear plan includes an increase of more than $250 million in Medicaid spending and $432 million to get a start on a proposal to buy a private prison and build a new one. The idea is the new bed space would replace more run-down and dangerous facilities.
The midyear spending plan includes $112.6 million to buy and develop the land for Rivian’s new electric-vehicle manufacturing plant east of Atlanta.