The taxes the state collects help it educate 2 million children, provide health care to more than 2 million Georgians, manage and improve parks, investigate crimes and incarcerate criminals, and regulate insurance firms, utilities and dozens of professions. The state issues driver’s licenses and helps pay for nursing home care for the elderly.
The state is a major provider of treatment for mental health and drug addiction, and it helps fund public health programs that are fighting the pandemic. Besides paying salaries, it helps make sure that hundreds of thousands of former teachers, university staffers and state employees receive pensions and health care.
Kemp has already announced that some of the COVID-19 money will go for bonuses for police, prison and jail guards, EMTs, firefighters and other first responders. Facing reelection in 2022, he will also want the General Assembly to approve a pay raise for teachers to meet a campaign promise he made three years ago.
The majority Republicans in the General Assembly will almost certainly push for a tax cut, while Democrats have said they want more money to go to education and health care so that fewer Georgians are uninsured.
The unemployment rate in metro Atlanta fell to 3.1% in August from 3.2% the month before, though that calculation partly masks the true labor picture since it does not include people who are no longer looking for jobs. The labor force shrunk by 22,332 from July to August, and there are still fewer jobs than there were pre-pandemic.
In August, the Port of Savannah had its second-busiest month on record, handling 485,595 containers. That was 10% higher than the same month a year ago, which was then a record for August. But ships have backed up in the port over supply chain issues, getting the goods off the boats and to stores and consumers.
State tax collections during the first quarter of fiscal 2022 vs. fiscal 2021
Individual income tax — +5.7%
Corporate income tax — +29.6%
Gross sales tax — +17.7%
Motor fuels — +9.4%
Tobacco — +4%
Alcoholic beverages — +1.6%
Hotel/motel fees — +50.3%
Source: Georgia Department of Revenue