Friday July 3rd, 2020 10:39PM

Kemp looks to efficiency, pay raise in Georgia budget talk

By The Associated Press

ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia’s governor isn’t seeking another income tax cut in the upcoming budget, but he's still not talking about it.

Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, speaking to lawmakers Tuesday about his proposed budget, focused on efforts to cut spending without harming state services as well as his spending priorities — including $376 million for additional $2,000 raises for K-12 and preschool teachers.

“Even in this positive economic climate, to fully support our students and teachers and care for our most vulnerable Georgians and strengthen our economic development efforts, we must prioritize our existing financial resources,” Kemp said. “It means reducing costs to government while continuing to deliver excellent service for our citizens.”

Kemp left the speech without taking questions from reporters and his office didn't immediately respond to an Associated Press inquiry about why his spending proposal doesn’t include a plan to cut the state’s top income tax rate from 5.75% to 5.5%, which had been envisioned when lawmakers cut the top rate from 6% in 2019.

But state economist Jeffrey Dorfman told a joint House-Senate budget committee hearing that Kemp’s budget omits the additional cut. Dorfman told lawmakers that changes in income taxes had been meant to avoid a state windfall because of changes in federal tax law but appear to have overshot the mark.

“We did a good job of giving the windfall back to taxpayers,” Dorfman said. “It turned out we did a little better job than we thought we were doing.”

Dorfman said another tax cut would cost $500 million; other estimates put it at $550 million.

Kemp is seeking midyear budget cuts this year and further cuts next year because of a slowdown in state revenue. Tax receipts were barely above last year through December, although Kemp projected growth of more than $800 million through June 30. Growth from income tax receipts tanked after the tax cut, and sales tax growth also slowed.

Kemp projects revenue will pick up for the remainder of this budget year, eventually rising by $410 million. Next year, he projects growth of $726 million or 2.7% percent, below growth rates in recent years.

“I believe Georgia’s economy is likely to continue growing slowly over the next nine to 12 months, which means we’ll have some additional revenue but not as much additional revenue as we’re used to having,” Dorfman said.

Kemp wants to give K-12 schools, colleges, universities and Medicaid enough money to pay for population growth and other cost increases. Most other agencies would see cuts. Kemp focused on efficiencies, cited as an example a new timekeeping system that would save $16 million in overtime for prison employees.

“The budget before you shows that reducing costs doesn’t require drastic cuts to other agency activities," the governor said.

But agency directors who spoke after Kemp on Tuesday told lawmakers that cuts would curtail services.

Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black was the most blunt. A Republican elected statewide, Black isn’t appointed by Kemp and told lawmakers the budget presents “challenges.” He said his department has eliminated 18 full-time and seven part-time vacancies, plus laid off six regular and four contract employees. Black said that, with fewer employees, his department will conduct fewer food safety, animal, gas pump and scale inspections.

“This is uncomfortable information,” Black said. “It is of no comfort to me to present it, but it is truthful and accurate.”

Labor Commissioner Mark Butler told lawmakers that he particularly opposed Kemp’s proposal to eliminate funding for Jobs for Georgia’s Graduates, a training and education program targeting at-risk high school students.

“I will fight from here until you kick me out of office to have any cuts to the program,” Butler said.

Economic Development Commisioner Pat Wilson said his department would reduce travel and trade show visits to market Georgia. He said project managers are busy now with inquiries about businesses that want to expand in Georgia but said that “in the future, there will be an impact.” The department also will reduce funding for items including locally run visitor centers and historic markers.

State Rep. Al Williams, a Democrat from Midway, likened the position of some Kemp appointees on cuts to taking castor oil and pretending to like it.

"It always amazes me how people come up and paint this rosy picture of cuts,” Williams said.

  • Associated Categories: Homepage, Local/State News, Politics, Associated Press (AP), AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Business, AP Online - Georgia News, AP Online Headlines - Georgia News, AP Business - Economy
© Copyright 2020 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Weinstein defense points to 'loving emails' as openings near
Harvey Weinstein's lawyers want to use intimate emails from his accusers to try to convince jurors in his rape trial that any contact was consensual
3:29PM ( 15 minutes ago )
Mexico begins flying, busing migrants back to Honduras
Hundreds of Central American migrants who waded across a river into Mexico in hopes of eventually reaching the U.S. are being sent back to their homeland or have retreated across the border after Mexican authorities blocked their way
3:23PM ( 21 minutes ago )
The Latest: Counsel notes some senators 'should be in Iowa'
White House counsel Pat Cipollone is noting that some of the senators running for president and listening to the impeachment trial would rather be campaigning in Iowa
3:18PM ( 26 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
McConnell abruptly eases impeachment limits
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell abruptly changed his proposed rules for President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial after senators objected
2:51PM ( 53 minutes ago )
Michigan lawmaker says senator harassed her at orientation
A Michigan lawmaker has alleged that a fellow legislator sexually harassed her 14 months ago, coming forward a week after a female reporter said the same senator made a sexist comment to her in the Capitol
2:27PM ( 1 hour ago )
Chief justice juggles 2 jobs in overseeing impeachment trial
John Roberts is starting to juggle two jobs as the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump gets underway
2:20PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
UK's Lords slam government's Brexit bill over child migrants
Britain’s Parliament has urged Prime Minister Boris Johnson to think again on part of his key Brexit bill and restore a promise to reunite child refugees with their families
12:14PM ( 3 hours ago )
Planned Parenthood endorses challenger to Sen. Susan Collins
Planned Parenthood has snubbed Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine by endorsing her Democratic opponent Sara Gideon in their Senate race
11:56AM ( 3 hours ago )
Challenges for public following impeachment, Weinstein cases
Members of the public who want to follow President Donald Trump's impeachment and Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein's rape trial through the media will sit in obstructed seats
11:55AM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
Warden: Michael Avenatti kept in his own cell for his safety
A warden for the New York federal lockup where Michael Avenatti is being kept alone in his cell says he's there for his own safety
2:51PM ( 53 minutes ago )
At 90, Alaska Native woman will be 1st counted in US Census
A Yup'ik elder born to nomadic parents in western Alaska just after the start of the Great Depression is scheduled to be the first person counted in the 2020 Census
2:27PM ( 1 hour ago )
Backatcha: Thunberg returns Trump's climate jibe
Greta Thunberg has wasted little time in pushing back against President Donald Trump's description of climate campaigners as “the perennial prophets of doom
2:19PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Business
US gets 1st case of mysterious new Chinese illness
The U.S. has its first case of a new virus that was found only last month in China, and health officias say they expect to see more around the world in the coming days
2:52PM ( 52 minutes ago )
2020 Democratic contenders link arms in MLK Jr. Day march
Democratic presidential contenders hit pause on their recent feuds as they walked shoulder to shoulder through the streets of South Carolina's capital city to honor the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. For a few hours Monday, the squabbling among White House hopefuls over who is best positioned to defeat President Donald Trump in November gave way to united condemnation of his handling of America’s racial divide
1:26AM ( 14 hours ago )
Powell's big 4th quarter leads Raptors past Hawks, 122-117
Normal Powell's streak of 20-point games is intact
6:43PM ( 21 hours ago )
AP Online - Georgia News
The Latest: Trump speech seen as message to US voter
Former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark says U.S. President Trump's address to the World Economic Forum was “a domestic speech” partly aimed to rise above the buzz over his impeachment trial
12:43PM ( 3 hours ago )
The Latest: Trump renews auto tariff threat against EU
President Donald Trump says he’ll strongly consider imposing tariffs on European auto imports if the U.S. and European Union can’t strike a trade agreement
12:17PM ( 3 hours ago )
Belarus imports oil from Norway after Russia halts supplies
Belarus has started importing oil from Norway after its main oil provider, Russia, suspended supplies earlier this month amid stalled talks on further strengthening their economic ties
12:08PM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Business - Economy
Weinstein defense points to 'loving emails' as openings near
Harvey Weinstein's lawyers want to use intimate emails from his accusers to try to convince jurors in his rape trial that any contact was consensual
3:29PM ( 15 minutes ago )
Mexico begins flying, busing migrants back to Honduras
Hundreds of Central American migrants who waded across a river into Mexico in hopes of eventually reaching the U.S. are being sent back to their homeland or have retreated across the border after Mexican authorities blocked their way
3:23PM ( 21 minutes ago )
The Latest: Counsel notes some senators 'should be in Iowa'
White House counsel Pat Cipollone is noting that some of the senators running for president and listening to the impeachment trial would rather be campaigning in Iowa
3:18PM ( 26 minutes ago )
Police: Mother says she killed 3 kids found in Phoenix home
Authorities say a Phoenix woman has been arrested on suspicion of killing her three children
3:16PM ( 28 minutes ago )
Minnesota man exposed as commander of Nazi-led unit dies
A Minnesota man exposed as a former commander of a Nazi-led unit during World War II has died
3:12PM ( 32 minutes ago )