(Part-01) Pay increases and college expenses dominate. Gov. Brian Kemp's Georgia budget

 Gov. Brian Kemp is recommending a significant increase in expenditures after years of keeping them far lower than Georgia's revenue collections.

On Thursday, the Republican governor's proposed budgets for the current fiscal year (ending in June) included an extra $5 billion in expenditures. Kemp highlighted in his State of the State speech a plan to increase salaries for nearly 300,000 state employees and teachers, as well as an increase in expenditure of $3.6 billion over this year's initial budget, which would be implemented in the 2025 budget that begins on July 1.

To meet its legal requirement of reserving 15% of state revenue, Georgia has set aside $5.4 billion in its rainy day reserve. Also, after three years of operations, it has accumulated a surplus of $10.7 billion. Kemp claims he will spend $2 billion from the excess, leaving $8.7 billion.

Because of the state's surplus, Kemp has insisted that Georgia pay in full for all of the building and remodeling projects he has proposed. State officials from the Office of Planning and Budget claimed they couldn't recall a year when borrowing money wasn't necessary. Georgia raised $880 million from bond sales in July. Over the course of 20 years, paying with cash is expected to result in interest savings of $1.3 billion.

A state employee pension fund would be strengthened with $500 million from Kemp's proposed budget, which also includes $1.5 billion for road development and maintenance, $250 million for water and sewer projects, and $250 million for grants to encourage business.

Under Kemp's plan, Georgia will allocate $37.5 billion in the current budget and $36.1 billion in 2025. Nonetheless, Kemp maintains his gloomy revenue forecast, estimating an almost 7% decline in tax and other revenues from now until June. The decline in state tax income is not as severe as it may be at the moment.

Starting July 1, public school teachers in Georgia will receive a $2,500 rise, bringing their average yearly salary above $65,000. Legislators will have to approve Kemp's $1,000 bonus, which he distributed in December, as part of the ongoing budget process.

State and university employees would get a 4% wage raise, up to $70,000, in addition to their $1,000 bonus. Salary for a state employee is $50,400 on average. This amounts to a total of $630 million in salary increases. Kemp had already increased teacher salaries by $7,000 during his first five years as governor.

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