Kemp proposes a $5K pay increase for state employees

Credit: Ben Gray

Credit: Ben Gray

Gov. Brian Kemp plans to include a $5,000 pay increase for state employees in his budget proposal as he heads into an election-year legislative session with state coffers flush with cash.

The governor’s spending plan would also make permanent a $5,000 cost-of-living adjustment for full-time employees, increase the employer match for 401(k) contributions to a maximum of 9% and allow employees to withdraw up to 40 hours of eligible leave as pay each year.

Kemp detailed the plan in a letter Friday to state agency heads as he thanked employees for their “leadership, dedication and resilience throughout these challenging times.”

“During the pandemic, I asked for your help in making the tough, necessary spending cuts to ensure we were prepared for the unknown,” he wrote.

“You rose to the occasion, identifying ways to leverage technology, streamline operations and curb unnecessary expenditures while still improving customer service.”

With help from federal stimulus dollars, Georgia took in a record amount of revenue in fiscal 2021, which ended June 30. It wound up with a $3.7 billion surplus. This fiscal year, Georgia is on pace to exceed those revenue numbers.

Kemp said in an interview earlier this week he would also propose a $2,000 pay increase for Georgia teachers to fulfill his 2018 campaign promise to give educators an overall $5,000 pay raise.

The budget must be approved by state lawmakers, who will also consider pay hikes for law enforcement officers, first responders, members of the judiciary and others.

“I’m trying to keep count of how many groups we’ve promised pay raises to — and the list gets longer every day,” House Speaker David Ralston quipped earlier this week.

“I know that we’re in a fairly good budget situation,“ he added, “but at some point, we are going to run out before we get to everybody.”

Kemp is facing stiff opposition from both sides of the aisle as he seeks a second term. Former U.S. Sen. David Perdue is challenging him in the GOP primary, while Democrat Stacey Abrams has launched her second bid for governor.

Staff writer James Salzer contributed to this article.