ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia’s Republican Gov. Brian Kemp will deliver his second annual State of the State address Thursday amid questions about whether he can cut income taxes and deliver a campaign promise to raise teacher pay, all while trimming the state budget.
Kemp touted an agenda for the upcoming year that includes reforming state adoption law, combating human trafficking and fighting street gangs during a breakfast for politicians and lawmakers on Wednesday. That could be a preview for his remarks a day later before the Georgia General Assembly.
“This session I look forward to working with members of the General Assembly to strengthen our anti-gang laws and give law enforcement greater tools to shut down these criminal enterprises before they claim another life,” Kemp said Wednesday morning during the Georgia Chamber of Commerce’s annual legislative breakfast.
But the elephant in the room during his State of the State will be how the governor plans to grapple with the budget.
Tax receipts for the current fiscal year have fallen short of budget projections. That led Kemp to order mid-year budget cuts of 4% for some agencies, and order them to prepare another 2% in cuts for the 2021 budget beginning July 1.
The call for cuts has left a question as to whether lawmakers will be able to honor some expensive promises this year.
A cut in Georgia’s top income tax rate from 6% to 5.75% began in 2019, and another cut to 5.5% was foreseen for this year. Then there’s the teacher pay raise. Kemp was able to secure a $3,000 pay raise for teachers last year, and has promised another $2,000.