During their inaugural speeches, Governor Brian Kemp and newly-elected Lieutenant Governor Burt Jones painted a picture of Republican successes in Georgia but called for further tax relief, investment in schools and health care, and tough-on-crime policies.
“Last year on the campaign trail, no matter where we went, hard-working Georgians told us about the pain they and their families were feeling at the pump, at the grocery store, in everyday life, thanks to 40-year-high inflation. I know these pains haven’t gone away,” Kemp said Thursday after being sworn in for a second term.
The inauguration came amid the first week of the legislature’s session, and a day before Kemp’s office will share his budget proposals with legislators. Kemp said his proposal would include $2,00o pay raises for state employees, including teachers and law enforcement; $150 million in grants to address learning loss; $1 billion set aside for income tax refunds; and $1.1 billion for homeowner property tax relief.
In his speech, Jones praised Kemp for his leadership and said Kemp made Georgia the first state to reopen the economy amid COVID-19.
“We have a $6 billion surplus. Our unemployment rate is a record low. We’ve created hundreds of thousands of new jobs, and we’re named the best state in the country to do business for the ninth year in a row,” Jones said.
But Jones warned about rising crime and inflation, and laid out some policies.
“By lowering the state income tax, returning more money back to hardworking Georgians, supporting our law enforcement. It’s strengthening sentencing guidelines for violent and repeat offenders to improve our overall public safety. Increasing education funding will continue. And we want to continue to invest in our health care system, including mental health services, to create a safer, healthier, stronger, Georgia,” he said.
Kemp started his speech by recalling his first term in office.
“My fellow Georgians, four years ago I stood before many of you and laid out a road map to deliver on big promises, to shake up the status quo, and to put hard work and Georgians first,” Kemp said. “None of us could have imagined the immense challenges our state would face in the years to come.”
Kemp listed COVID-19, crime, and economics as challenges Georgians overcame and appeared to hint at the political uproar his administration faced after the 2020 election.
“Also know that over the last four years, my hair has gotten grayer. My face has more wrinkles. And as you know, my family and I have taken our fair share of arrows,” he said.
“But I’ll say this: My heart has never been more proud to be a Georgian and just an old construction guy from Athens has never been more optimistic about the future of our state,” Kemp said.
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