$250-$500 Georgia tax refunds proposed by Gov. Kemp for all

Georgia’s governor made the announcement during Eggs and Issues’ annual legislative preview on Wednesday.

ATLANTA — Gov. Brian Kemp is proposing that the Peach State give Georgians a $250-$500 tax credit. During Eggs and Issues’ annual legislative preview on Wednesday, Kemp joined several other state leaders to address economic success and look to the future.

Kemp said his administration plans to provide a $250 refund credit to individual taxpayers and $500 to those filing jointly. The $1.6 billion in income taxes comes from a $2.2 billion surplus from Georgia’s most recent fiscal year.

Fearing that revenue would fall amid the COVID pandemic, Georgia lawmakers cut 10% of the spending plan while developing the fiscal 2021 budget in the summer of 2020. When it became clear that revenue would not fall, the state government restored spending hundreds of millions of dollars back into its education budget. However, other agencies across the Peach State were still under a 10% cut, leaving a surplus of funds from the previous fiscal year.

The legislature had additional funds to plan for the 2022 financial year. Now Kemp has made a decision about what to do with the leftover money.

RELATED: Kemp, Raffensperger reject voting rights bill during presidential visit

“Over the past fiscal year, the state ran a record budget surplus because we kept Georgia open and fought in this space with all of you to keep businesses and communities afloat. I believe that when the government takes in more money than it needs, excess funds should be sent back to the hard-working men and women who move our state forward,” Kemp said during the address.

Several state agencies are still underfunded by millions in the fiscal 2022 budget compared to pre-pandemic numbers, according to the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute. There are cuts in spending in pre-K through 12th grade, higher education, health services and programs, and human services and labor departments, among others.

Kemp finds himself in the midst of a difficult primary campaign as he seeks re-election as well-known opponents such as Stacey Abrams and former Senator David Perdue have also thrown their hats in the ring to become Georgia governor.

He’s been on the right track lately, writing a letter demanding a $5,000 raise and other benefits for state employees and pushing for a new law that would relax the state’s handgun requirements last week.

Kemp said he now wants to “empower” the people of the state by using the surplus funds from last fiscal year to provide Georgia residents with a few hundred dollars in tax refund credits.

“As Georgians try to recover from the economic impact of a global pandemic, we as leaders should do everything we can to empower families to keep more of their money in their own wallets,” Kemp said.

The legislation includes exempting retirement income for state veterans and ensuring that at least 90 percent of tuition for HOPE grant recipients is covered by the program, the governor said.

“Because that’s your money. Not the government’s,” Kemp said.