What to do with $16 billion: child care, bonuses, school buses, tax cuts?

When the state announced earlier this month that it was sitting on a mountain of tax money, the one given, considering how Gov. Brian Kemp and Republican legislative leaders have reacted to past surpluses, is that Georgians will likely be in for more tax rebates in 2024 unless the economy seriously tanks.

But a new report released Tuesday by the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, a left-leaning nonprofit that studies government spending, recommends the state do more with the $16 billion in rainy day and undesignated reserves than dole out tax breaks. The organization says some of it should go for long-term state needs and investments in things such as expanded child care.

In his Budget and Policy Institute report, Kanso said that trend of conservative estimating is continuing in this fiscal year’s budget, which runs through June 30. The budget is based on a projected 13% decline in general fund tax revenue, which would be the worst performance by the state in generations, Kanso said. Revenue for the first quarter of fiscal 2024 was up 6.1%.

Meanwhile, the institute’s report says spending on state services has not kept up with the growth in the state’s population.

“There are several unique areas in which surplus funds present a rare opportunity to address deficits built up over time and projected needs for the future — all while strengthening Georgia’s economy, supporting job creation and benefiting families statewide,” Kanso said.

Read the full article by the Atlanta Journal Constitution

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