Georgian lawmakers are allocating nearly $ 60 million from this year’s revised budget to give tens of thousands of government employees $ 1,000 in rewards.
The one-time bonuses go to those who earn less than $ 80,000 per year.
Governor Brian Kemp says the move is intended to thank frontline workers for their efforts during the pandemic.
“You have exceeded our duty to provide essential services to our most vulnerable people, to keep our businesses open, and to financially support those who frankly have lost hope for many days,” said Kemp.
House spokesman David Ralston said the bonuses will go to 57,000 workers from almost every government agency.
“We’re talking about the front lines of the Georgia Department of Health who have battled COVID-19 day in and day out,” Ralston said. “We’re talking about our Georgia State Patrol and other state law enforcement agencies trying to keep the peace going in the tough days we saw last year,” he said.
Ralston also noticed the work of food inspectors and social workers.
Governor Geoff Duncan, House Majority Leader Jon Burns and Speaker David Ralston announce a $ 1,000 bonus for most government employees. (Emil Moffatt / WABE)
The sales estimates for Georgia are above the originally forecast values. This has enabled the governor and lawmaker to return millions of dollars to government agencies after deep budget cuts last year.
Many Democrats urged the state to use more of its Rainy Day fund to fully restore the cuts.
Republicans have credited Kemp with reopening the state economy soon after the first coronavirus lockdown last spring. However, critics say it puts too many front-line workers at risk. Georgia ranks in the middle of the 50 states in terms of deaths per 100,000 population.
The Georgia Senate passed its revised budget for the fiscal year on Tuesday. According to Ralston, the money for the government employee bonuses is included in the conference committee, which makes up for differences in the budgets of the House of Representatives and the Senate.
Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan said the awards were intended to reward the “hard hours” put in by government employees.
“I would like to personally thank the House for guiding this matter as we work together to show our government employees the value we place in their work and the role they play in making Georgia a great state” said Duncan.