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Gov. Kemp signs $26.5B mid-year state budget
Brian Kemp
Brian Kemp

Gov. Brian Kemp signed a $26.5 billion mid-year budget Monday that restores $2.2 billion in spending cuts the General Assembly imposed on state agencies last June due to the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

During a brief signing ceremony, Kemp noted the early reopening of Georgia businesses forced to shut down by the virus allowed the legislature to adopt the fiscal 2021 mid-year spending plan last week with no new cuts and no furloughs or layoffs of state employees.

“Thanks to our measured reopening and strong fiscal management, Georgia weathered the storm,” he said. “This balanced budget sets our state on a clear path to recovery in the coming months.”

The governor’s original mid-year budget plan called for $1,000 bonuses to Georgia teachers and other school workers saddled with the responsibilities of delivering online instruction to students stuck at home during the pandemic.

Later, as the spending plan went through the General Assembly, lawmakers ordered up the same bonuses for about 57,000 state workers earning less than $80,000 per year, and the University System of Georgia extended the bonuses to income-eligible employees of the state’s public colleges and universities.

The mid-year budget also includes $20 million to extend broadband connectivity in rural Georgia, $1 million in marketing funds to help bring back a state tourism industry rocked by COVID-19 and $289,000 to help the Grady Regional Coordinating Center continue its vital mission of coordinating emergency room use during the pandemic.

The General Assembly moved quickly to complete work on the mid-year budget in order to have state spending commitments through June 30 in place in case the virus forced a temporary shutdown in the legislative session, as happened for three months last year.

With the mid-year budget delivered and signed, lawmakers will focus next on the $27.2 billion fiscal 2022 state budget, now before the Georgia House of Representatives.