Kemp looks to give Georgians refund check after state sees $1.6 billion surplus in budget

ATLANTA — Gov. Brian Kemp wants to use some of Georgia’s record budget surplus to send every taxpayer a refund check, but some state Democrats think that $1.6 billion could be better used on health care.

Gov. Kemp made the proposal during the Georgia Chamber of Commerce’s Eggs & Issues Breakfast at the Fox Theater Wednesday morning.

Hundreds of state business leaders gathered to hear political leaders address their achievements and concerns and lay out their agendas for the year.

Georgia is flush with money after the pandemic-induced recession wasn’t as deep as originally feared.

Going into the lockdown, the state slashed its budget in anticipation of much smaller tax revenues.

But revenue collection was not as dire as predicted, and the state is awash in federal stimulus money, creating the surplus.

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“We’re simply giving the money back to the people who paid the taxes,” Kemp said. “I believe that when government takes in more money than it needs, surplus funds should be sent back to the hard-working men and women to keep our state moving, because I believe it’s their money, not the governments.”

The plan would give refund credits ranging from $250 for single filers, to $500 for joint filers.

Kemp also announced his support for proposed tax cuts and promised to work with lawmakers to see where those cuts could come from.

State Democrats didn’t think much of the governor’s proposal. They believe the money could be put to much better use helping secure health insurance for Georgians who need it.

“I think it’s another misguided initiative from the Governor,” said House Minority Leader State Rep. James Beverly, D-Macon. “It’s misguided because there are 500,000 Georgians right now who don’t have health insurance. We can cover the coverage cap right now with that money. When part of that money can be used to expand health care and to make sure that people who lost their job through no fault of their own are now put in the deal flow.”

Kemp’s rival for the GOP gubernatorial nomination, Vernon Jones, sent a statement on Kemp’s proposal.

“I’m glad to see that Brian Kemp has read my contract with Georgia and taken another plank from my platform. In desperation for re-election, he now wants to play Santa Claus after Christmas,” Jones said.

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