Georgia's $32.4 billion budget includes pay raises for police, teachers and public employees

Governor Brian Kemp on Friday signed a $32.4 billion state budget for 2024 that includes pay raises of $4,000 to $6,000 for police officers and a $2,000 raise for other state employees, teachers and university system staff.

The budget, which takes effect July 1, increases government spending by $2.2 billion, or 7.4 percent, over the budget passed by the General Assembly last spring.

The budget fully funds Georgia's Quality Basic Education (QBE) funding formula from pre-K through high school with a record $13.1 billion in state funds and covers 100% of tuition for Georgia's HOPE Scholars for the first time since 2011.

“This budget improves the quality and access to education across the board,” Kemp said during a signing ceremony at the massive construction site of a Hyundai Motor Group electric vehicle manufacturing plant near Savannah.

Wearing an orange safety vest and white hard hat, Kemp used the construction site setting to tout Georgia's economic development progress, including announcing the four largest projects in the state's history in the past year, including the Hyundai plant.

When the budget passed the General Assembly, lawmakers added to the governor's request for an additional $47 million for mental health services, bringing the total to $117 million.

The budget also includes $52 million to implement Georgia Pathways, Kemp's limited Medicaid expansion that, unlike the federal version, requires a work requirement for enrollment.

The budget also finances the construction, planning and/or design of 24 buildings, primarily projects on university and technical college campuses.

During Friday's ceremony, Kemp also signed a bill extending the state's sales tax exemption for “competitive projects of regional significance,” including the Hyundai plant, through 2026. Kemp said most of these major economic development projects are outside the Atlanta metropolitan area.

Separate from the signing ceremony, Kemp signed a bill on Friday to create an oversight board to investigate and hold hearings on complaints against prosecutors in Georgia. The bill passed the Republican-dominated General Assembly along party lines after Democrats in the legislature complained that it targets district attorneys, whom Republicans accuse of being soft on crime.