Gov. Brian Kemp on Thursday made it clear the state won’t be hitting the brakes on its recent record spending, promising 4% raises for many state workers, more money for law enforcement, education and mental health programs, and $500 million to prop up the employees pension system.
Sitting on $16 billion in “rainy day” and undesignated reserves, Kemp told state lawmakers that state finances are in good enough shape to continue big increases in spending, despite flagging tax collections.
“It’s no secret that most state government jobs pay less than private-sector opportunities in the same line of work,” Kemp told legislators. “But many of our employees do it because they feel a sense of public service and they want our state to succeed.
“But for state government to stay efficient, and stay ahead of Georgia’s continued growth, we must be able to attract and then retain employees who perform vitally important jobs.”
Danny Kanso, senior budget analyst for the left-leaning Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, praised the raise proposals.
“These pay raises are urgently needed to keep Georgia’s workforce intact and meet basic needs of residents across the state,” he wrote on social media. “Georgia reported this month that turnover among full-time employees remained incredibly high … at 21% statewide.”