Brian Kemp Wants to Give Georgians At Least $250 Tax Rebate With State's Surplus Cash

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp proposed using $1.6 billion of the state's surplus funds to give every tax filer a rebate.

The state has $2.2 billion total in spare cash left over from the hefty budget surplus, even after funneling as much as was legally allowed into its rainy day fund.

The Republican governor told the Georgia Chamber of Commerce about the proposal on Wednesday. Under his plan, all single filers would receive a $250 rebate, while every household filing taxes jointly would receive a $500 rebate.

"Last fiscal year, because we kept Georgia open and fought alongside you all in this room to keep businesses and communities afloat, the state collected a record budget surplus," Kemp said. "I believe that when [the] government takes in more money than it needs, surplus funds should be sent back to the hard-working men and women who keep our state moving forward. Because that is your money, not the government's."

The governor also wants to give retired military veterans a retirement-income exclusion, WRDW-TV reported.

"These men and women deserve more than our words of appreciation, even though we have many to give. They deserve action that shows our gratitude," he said.

Georgia Cash Surplus Plans
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp proposed using $1.6 billion of the state's surplus funds to give every tax filer a rebate. Above, Kemp speaks at a news conference about the state's Election Integrity Law on April 10, 2021, in Marietta, Georgia. Megan Varner/Getty Images

The rebates are the centerpiece of Kemp's emerging strategy to put cash in the hands of as many voters as possible, as quickly as possible, as he tries to get re-elected this year. Kemp faces a tough GOP primary ahead of a challenging general election campaign against likely Democratic nominee Stacey Abrams.

"We're simply giving the money back to the people that pay the taxes," Kemp told reporters after his speech. "We're trying to help people that are in the workforce combat rising inflation and other things."

Kemp also proposed $5,000 pay raises for employees of state agencies, a move endorsed Wednesday by Republican House Speaker David Ralston. And he wants to push his proposed $2,000 pay raise for teachers into the current budget year by paying a onetime $2,000 bonus now, according to advance remarks from Thursday's state of the state, obtained on Monday by the Associated Press.

Kemp also said that the University System of Georgia will cut special fees added during the recession if lawmakers agree to restore funding cut two years ago from university budgets.

The tax rebate and the teacher bonus could reach voters before the May 24 Republican primary, when Kemp faces former U.S. Senator David Perdue, former state lawmaker Vernon Jones and others for his party's nomination.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Georgia Election
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp's budget proposal could help sway voters in his favor in the state's gubernatorial race. Above, one of Kemp's Republican opponents, former U.S. Senator David Perdue, speaks during a campaign rally with former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley on December 20, 2020, in Cumming, Georgia. Jessica McGowan/Getty Images