Kemp to begin second Georgia term with new pay raise pledge


ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia's Brian Kemp is scheduled to be sworn in for a second term as governor Thursday, promising across-the-board pay raises for state employees and public school teachers.

The Republican plans to use his inaugural address to propose further pay raises, according to draft remarks viewed by The Associated Press, although the exact amount won't be unveiled until he speaks Thursday.

The 59-year-old Kemp begins his second term atop Georgia's political world. He rode his stewardship of the economy to a big win over Democrat Stacey Abrams, even though Abrams again outspent Kemp.

With a new House speaker and lieutenant governor, Kemp is unlikely to be challenged by the GOP-led Legislature.

The incumbent keeps ticking off economic development announcements, including $2.5 billion for two solar panel plants announced Wednesday by Hanwha Solution's Qcells unit in what the company said was the largest solar investment ever in the U.S.

Kemp delivered $5,000 pay raises to teachers and state employees in his first term. He promised teachers $5,000 when he ran in 2018, delivering in two steps, while state employees got the entire $5,000 as Kemp ran for reelection last year, after state revenues were supercharged by federal spending and the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. His inaugural pledge will reprise that theme.

Kemp also seeks to fulfill campaign promises to deliver another $1 billion of income tax refunds and a $1 billion property tax rebate. He plans to use Georgia's $6.6 billion in surplus cash to pay for those givebacks, as well as refill the state's roadbuilding coffers after suspending gas tax collections for 10 months.

“They sent it to us, so instead of spending it on new government programs, and bigger government, we’re going to put that money back in their pocket to help them fight through 40-year-high inflation,” Kemp told the Georgia Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday.

After taking his oath, he is headed to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where his staff says he will talk about how his conservative governance has promoted economic success.


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