Governor says Georgia ‘battered, is not broken’ by pandemic

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ATLANTA (AP) – Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp is defending his record fighting the COVID-19 pandemic while highlighting a strong economy and promising $1,000 bonuses for teachers.

Kemp’s State of the State speech Thursday was shadowed by Georgia’s soaring COVID-19 death toll and historic Democratic wins in the state for president and two Senate seats.

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It marks the halfway point of four years in office.

The first-term Republican reflected at length on the crisis created by the virus, but also celebrated some victories.

He argued that the state’s economy is growing and its budget picture has brightened considerably since lawmakers made $2.2 billion in cuts last year.

GEORGIA BUDGET

Kemp seeks to restore more than half of Georgia school cuts

ATLANTA (AP) – Gov. Brian Kemp want to restore more than half of Georgia’s cuts to K-12 education made last year, on top of the $1,000 bonuses he wants to pay to teachers from federal money. With tax collections running ahead of what was predicted last spring, the Republican Kemp on Thursday proposed to add $650 million to the current year’s budget. That would boost state spending to $26.3 billion. Kemp proposes a $27.2 billion budget for the 2022 year beginning July 1. That’s $935 million above current spending levels. State tax collections could end $1.5 billion ahead of projections this year. Kemp doesn’t propose to spend all that money. If a surplus materializes, it could end up in the rainy day fund.