The state ended fiscal 2021 with a $3.7 billion surplus, and some of the remaining money went into the government savings account. But Kemp, who is up for re-election this year, has also promised to return some of the surplus to taxpayers.
House and Senate leaders included $1.6 billion for reimbursement in their mid-year budget that Kemp signed last week. However, a state financial report released earlier this month said the cost would be closer to $1.1 billion.
Democrats said Kemp, a Republican, glossed over the fact that the surplus was built, in part, on federal aid that went for everything from improved unemployment checks and child tax credits. housing, health care and business support.
“Brian Kemp should thank President (Joe) Biden and congressional Democrats for Georgia’s budget surplus, which made these tax refunds possible,” said Georgia Democratic Party spokesman Max Flugrath.
“Georgia Democrats are going to make sure every voter knows that while Republicans voted against this boost for Georgian families, President Biden and Democrats delivered,” he said.
Much of the federal aid that helped build the surplus was approved by Congress in 2020, the year before Biden took office and the passage of the US bailout, to which the Republicans opposed. The aid approved in 2020 was backed by members of Congress from both parties.
Former U.S. Senator David Perdue, who is running against Kemp in the Republican primary, called the refund a “one-time gift” for the election year in a tweet after the signing.
“That’s exactly what Georgians hate about politics and career politicians,” Perdue said. “When I’m governor, we won’t be playing those election year games — we’ll be eliminating state income tax.”
State income tax raises more than half of state revenue to fund schools and universities, pave roads, provide public health care, and police highways. Perdue, along with other Republican running for office across the state, called on lawmakers to eliminate the income tax, but he did not detail how he would balance the state budget without it.