Tens of thousands of University System of Georgia employees weren’t included in Wednesday’s announcement.

Under the law, the state cannot tell the Board of Regents, which oversees the university system, to give the $ 1,000 bonuses. However, the state provides more than $ 2 billion annually for public colleges and universities, so lawmakers have some political leverage.

House spokesman David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, said there are talks with the system to allow employees to earn rewards less than $ 80,000. Terry England, chairman of House Appropriations, R-Auburn, said about 36,000 university employees would be eligible if the Board of Regents approves system awards.

Who doesn’t get bonuses?

Members of the General Assembly, most of whom receive $ 17,342 annually, do not receive rewards given to full-time state employees. Being a member of the House of Representatives and Senate is considered part-time.

During a Capitol press conference, Ralston, Kemp and Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan applauding government officials for what they did during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re talking about frontline workers at the Georgia Department of Health who have battled COVID-19 day in and day out to get Georgians tested and vaccines distributed,” Ralston said.

“We’re talking about our Georgia State Patrol and other state law enforcement agencies who tried to keep the peace in the tough days we saw last year … food inspectors who stayed on the job keeping our food supplies safe, and we’re talking about caseworkers who continue to serve and protect children who are victims of abuse or neglect, ”Ralston said.

Kemp said, “Despite the global pandemic, our people have worked incredibly hard and gone beyond duty.

“I think we are doing our part to thank you for all you have done. ”

Over budget

The announcement came as the two legislative houses are about to finally approve the mid-year budget that will fund government agencies through June 30.

The plan would add $ 654 million to total spending.

The biggest increase has been in education, where the House and Senate followed Kemp’s proposal to replenish 60% of the spending cuts approved by lawmakers last year when they cut 10% over fears that government revenues would be cut due to COVID -19 would decrease pandemic.

That didn’t happen. In fact, government tax revenue rose 6.3% in the first seven months of this fiscal year.

Why a mid-year budget?

The House and Senate agreed to push through a mid-year budget if they had to suspend the meeting – as in March – because of the pandemic.

The budget would also fund 500 new school buses and increase support for nursing homes hit hard by COVID-19. It would add the high-speed internet in rural areas and provide 10% increases for corrections and juvenile justice.

And it would spend $ 27 million to quickly modernize the Department of Health’s computer system that tracks vaccinations and pay for the hiring of several new employees at the agency who spent most of the past year fighting COVID-19 Pandemic.

$ 1,000: The amount of bonuses for some government employees in a proposal supported by many Georgian leaders

US $ 80,000: A maximum of employees are eligible for the awards per year

Over 57,000: Number of government employees who are eligible for the awards