Georgia Senate Approves $5 Billion Boost in State Spending for Worker Bonuses and Infrastructure Development

Brian Kemp, governor of Georgia, during a panel session on day three of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, on Thursday, Jan. 18, 2024.

The Georgia Senate is backing modifications to the state budget that would increase spending by $5 billion.

This includes funding for bonuses already distributed to state employees and teachers, extra road construction, new dental and medical schools, and reducing certain state debts.

The Senate approved House Bill 915 with a vote of 54-1 on Thursday. The bill will allocate additional funds to the existing budget until June 30.

The House and Senate will now collaborate to resolve their differences and then send the measure to Republican Gov. Brian Kemp once they reach an agreement.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Blake Tillery, a Vidalia Republican, informed senators that there were minimal distinctions between Kemp’s proposal and those of the House and Senate. “There’s agreement on 95% of the budget,” Tillery stated.

Kemp suggested increasing state spending to $37.5 billion from the $32.5 billion approved by lawmakers last year. The total expenditure, which includes federal assistance, tuition fees, fines, and other fees, is projected to increase to $67.5 billion.

The state has the flexibility to increase spending despite a slowdown in tax collections. This is due to Governor Kemp’s conservative revenue estimate and Georgia’s substantial surplus of $10.7 billion in addition to its $5.4 billion rainy day fund.

Kemp plans to allocate as much as $2 billion from the surplus. Lawmakers are limited to adjusting or reducing the governor’s proposed spending to stay within Kemp’s revenue estimate.

Just before Christmas, the governor announced $1,000 bonuses for state and university employees as well as public school teachers.

The House plan allocates $315 million to cover the bonuses. Kemp has moreover suggested salary increases for staff starting on July 1.

These will be finalized by lawmakers in March when they vote on the budget for the next year. Kemp is proposing a 4% cost-of-living increase for state and university employees, with teachers receiving a similar $2,500 raise.

Georgia Senate Adjusts Budget for Roads, Local Aid, and Prison Tech

Brian Kemp, governor of Georgia, during a Bloomberg Television interview on day two of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, on Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2024.


The Senate made adjustments to Kemp’s proposal to allocate an additional $1.5 billion to accelerate scheduled road projects and create a freight infrastructure initiative.

The Senate plans to allocate an additional $50 million towards road repaving due to increased expenses for asphalt and concrete. They argue that the $100 million proposed by the House is excessive, considering the federal match.

The Senate plans to reduce Kemp’s proposed spending increase on freight infrastructure to $500 million and cut increased spending on big state Department of Transportation projects to $593 million.

The Senate plans to allocate the savings towards providing additional assistance to local governments. It proposes increasing funding for road and bridge aid to cities and counties to $250 million.

Support for local airports would increase to $98 million from the $27 million initially proposed by the House. The Senate plans to increase state-owned railroad aid to $8.5 million, doubling the amount proposed by the House.

The focus on local benefits is evident in the Senate budget, which includes an extra $14.1 million for construction at state parks, historic sites, and recreation sites.

Additionally, there is a proposal to increase community development grants to $5 million, up from the $2.5 million suggested by the House.

The Senate approved funding of $451 million to complete construction of a new prison in Washington County and $135 million for repairs to other prisons.

The Senate budget proposes spending $15.3 million, an increase from the House’s proposed $9.8 million, to implement technology aimed at preventing state prison inmates from accessing contraband cell phones.

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