Gov. Brian Kemp has included the rest of the $5,000 teacher pay raise that he promised on the campaign trail in next year’s budget, even as state officials are set to cut hundreds of millions of dollars in spending this year.
“Let’s give our educators another well-deserved pay raise,” he said to applause.
The $2,000 pay hike for public school teachers is expected to cost about $350 million. If approved, the raise will follow the $3,000 increase that was included in this year’s budget at a cost of about $530 million.
“This raise will continue to enhance retention rates, boost recruitment numbers and improve educational outcomes in schools throughout Georgia,” Kemp said during his “state of the state” speech Thursday morning delivered from the Georgia House of Representatives chamber.
“By investing in education, we can build a strong house – a place where everyone learns and all Georgians have the opportunity to thrive,” he said.
The pay bump comes as Kemp has ordered cuts totaling about $310 million across several state agencies. Agency officials offered up suggested cuts last fall.
Kemp also publicly announced his administration’s plans to address surprise medical bills, saying a “legislative remedy” is in the works.
“We have hardworking Georgians who by no fault of their own are on the brink of bankruptcy because there’s no transparency in health care billing,” Kemp said. “Families are living on a prayer because the system is rigged against them.”
He will also push to triple a tax credit meant to offset the cost of adoptions, lower the age someone can adopt from 25 to 21 and form the Families First Commission, which will look at the state’s foster care system
“As a pro-life governor, I believe that we need to protect the unborn and the born,” Kemp said, referencing last year’s highly contentious anti-abortion “heartbeat” bill that a judge stopped from taking effect for now.
He pledged to continue his focus on gang activity and human trafficking, and he announced a Johnny Isakson Professorship for Parkinson’s Research at the University of Georgia. The former U.S. senator stepped down last month for health reasons.