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EXCLUSIVE: Gov. Kemp talks on Georgia having $3.6 billion in surplus taxes

Published: Aug. 11, 2021 at 2:58 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - Georgia is facing a great problem right now - there’s a whole bunch of extra tax money laying around in Atlanta. News Leader 9′s Ben Stanfield asked Gov. Brian Kemp about the funds and where they could be used.

The state is sitting on billions of dollars in unbudgeted tax revenue and now comes the task of figuring out where to use the funds.

“Well I think it just goes to show that the national pundits, the national media and a lot of the activists were wrong that said we were doing a death experiment here in Georgia when I started to measuredly reopen the economy based on science and data and working with Dr. Toomey and her public health team and a lot of other people, private businesses, school systems and others as we reopened schools, reopened our economy,” said Gov. Kemp. “We cannot continue to sit in our basement while we’re fighting COVID.”

The governor was very deliberate in his remarks about the budget surplus correlating to his decision making with the pandemic.

He says that issues like teacher pay raises, lowering taxes in the state, and supporting law enforcement would be top priorities.

“You know, not defunding the police like the democrats want to do, but properly funding law enforcement at the state level so we can go after violent crime,” said Governor Kemp. “People are very worried about that. My wife and my daughters are, people I’ve talked to all over the state.”

The governor mentioned efforts at the state law enforcement level to help curb crime in Atlanta and how these new funds could help.

News Leader 9 asked Gov. Kemp specifically about Columbus - with surging homicide rates for the second year in a row - could this area see that same level of assistance from state law enforcement.

“We’ll work with any local governments to fight crime. That’s what I ran on, going after street gangs and drug cartels, and we created the Gang Task Force in the Georgia Bureau of Investigation,” said Governor Kemp. “We continue to work with all of the locals that ask us for help, and we’ll certainly do that with Columbus and Muscogee County.”

Those billions of surplus dollars will have to be designated by the legislature first - regardless of any priorities from the governor’s office. That won’t happen until the first of the year.

Gov. Kemp also tells News Leader 9 that not only have tax revenues been “incredible” at the state level, but also at county and local levels as well.

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