Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp delivered an optimistic State of the State address Thursday and proposed what he said were new ways for state officials to invest taxpayer money to counteract the effects of COVID-19.
At one point in his speech, the governor apparently referred to the November 2020 presidential elections and alleged voter fraud and other alleged voter irregularities.
“As we begin a new year, a new legislative session, there are some who want to look to the past, assign blame, settle old scores, and relive and relitigate 2020,” Kemp told state legislators at the Georgia State Capitol.
Kemp said Georgia must overcome “ridiculous and harmful conspiracies.” He said Georgia’s top priority now is fighting COVID-19.
Georgia, the governor went on to say, is well-positioned economically to fight the virus, more so than other states. He said he will soon propose a budget that furloughs no one, does not cut state agencies, and does not layoff large numbers of state employees. Last but not least, Kemp said he won’t propose tax increases.
“At a time in our nation’s history when jobless claims have skyrocketed, our unemployment rate in Georgia sits at 5.7 percent, well below the national average,” Kemp said.
“And in the midst of a global pandemic, Georgia’s economic development numbers have shattered record after record. Since the start of Fiscal Year 2021, our Department of Economic Development has announced the creation of more than 16,000 new jobs and more than $6 billion in new investment, with more than half of those jobs going to communities outside the metro area.”
Kemp spoke of a new PPE tax credit that he said incentivizes in-state production that ensures “we aren’t forced to rely on anyone but our own Georgia Made entrepreneurs for critical supplies.”
“I am proposing a natural next step to the PPE Tax Credit by expanding the letter of the law to cover pharmaceutical and medical equipment manufacturers. Georgia is home to some of health care’s strongest pillars with the CDC, several major health care systems, and premier medical research institutions like Augusta University and Emory. And as we look to a future on the other side of COVID-19, we should focus our efforts on planting more seeds in that good soil by spurring job creation from those industries that are critical to health care and building on Georgia’s momentum to become a leader in all sectors of the healthcare industry,” Kemp said.
“We’ve learned many lessons as a result of COVID-19, and one that we learned early on is that we cannot waste time in bidding wars with other states or foreign adversaries. No one nation should hold a monopoly on life-saving medicines and medical supplies. We should bring these critical industries and the jobs that come with them back to America and here to Georgia.”
Kemp also told state legislators that he recommends spending $647 million to restore funding to school systems statewide to fully fund enrollment growth “and hold schools harmless for enrollment reductions.”
“Those funds mean schools will be able to prioritize our students’ safety, ensure quality instruction continues, and stand with our educators in the months and years to come,” Kemp said.
“In a year when other states may face no other option but to slash education dollars, furlough teachers, and cut back on essential student programs, Georgia is restoring funding to schools, backing our teachers, and launching new initiatives to keep kids enrolled.”
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