University System of Georgia employees will get $1,000 bonuses, too

University System of Georgia Chancellor Steve Wrigley said Friday that university and college employees will get the same $1,000 bonuses as state employees.

That means about 36,000 University System employees who make less than $80,000 will join 57,000 state agency workers in receiving bonuses meant as a “thank-you” from Gov. Brian Kemp and lawmakers.

State officials had previously backed the same $1,000 bonus for Georgia’s teachers.

Kemp, House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, and Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan announced the bonuses for state employees Wednesday during a Capitol press conference. They said at the time that they were encouraging Wrigley, who runs an independent agency in state government, to do the same.

Wrigley said the system will mirror the state’s bonus plan.

Fearing that the COVID-19 pandemic and recession would cause state tax collections to tank, lawmakers cut spending 10% in June and didn’t approve any raises for teachers or employees.

But tax collections have been strong during the first seven months of fiscal 2021 — which ends June 30 — and lawmakers approved a midyear budget Thursday that restores 60% of the cuts made to k-12 schools and adds about $70 million to the University System’s budget.

The teacher and state employee bonuses are coming — directly or indirectly — from the billions of dollars Georgia has received through various federal COVID-19 relief programs.