Kemp signs Georgia’s fiscal 2025 budget

(The Center Square) — Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed off on the state’s fiscal 2025 budget, a spending plan that includes pay raises for public school teachers and state law enforcement officers.

“This budget in particular will help us further promote economic prosperity in communities all across the state, provide Georgia students a quality education, care for the health and wellbeing of our families, and ensure the safety of our neighborhoods,” Kemp, a Republican, said during a Tuesday signing ceremony, according to his prepared remarks. “And because we’ve budgeted conservatively and refused to spend beyond our means, we’re able to invest in these core areas while cutting taxes at the same time.”

The $66.8 billion budget, which lawmakers passed with House Bill 916, includes $36.1 billion in state General Fund spending and $19 billion in federal taxpayer money. It allocates more than $15.5 billion for the Department of Education, including $13.2 billion in state money, and roughly $4.2 billion for the Department of Transportation, including nearly $2.4 billion in state money.

“When others, including Washington, D.C. politicians, want to spend like there is no tomorrow, here in Georgia, we continue to balance the budget and put our money where it will have the greatest impact while working together to ensure we are good stewards of the people’s money,” Kemp said.

“Because we know that is your money, not the government’s,” the governor added. “This year’s budget is in line with that philosophy, and I’m grateful to all the partners in the General Assembly who supported it.”

The spending plan includes $3,000 pay raises for state law enforcement officers and an additional $2,500 raise for teachers. The budget also allocates $16.5 million for behavioral health crisis centers statewide and $1.4 million for a new Organized Retail Crime and Cyber Prosecution Unit within the Attorney General’s Office, which starts its work on July 1.

“From North Georgia and metro Atlanta to South Georgia and the coast, we have seen unprecedented success in putting away some of Georgia’s most dangerous criminals,” Attorney General Chris Carr said in a statement.

“Now we’re strengthening our efforts to combat an alarming increase in retail theft and cybercrime while continuing to pursue violent gang activity wherever it occurs,” the attorney general added. “We’re grateful for the support of Governor Brian Kemp and our partners in the General Assembly, and we look forward to continuing to work with them to protect the lives and livelihoods of all our fellow Georgians.”