ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia Republican Gov. Brian Kemp will introduce the first major policy proposals of his re-election bid Thursday, promising another state income tax refund and the revival of a state property tax exemption. inactive for a long time as she competes with Democratic challenger Stacey Abrams over who is best for the state’s economy.
After Abrams argued this week that The “greedy” Republicans are denying basic services and ignoring inequalities in pursuit of low spending and tax cuts for the wealthy, Kemp began beating up Abrams when he celebrated record economic growth numbers on Wednesday.
“If anyone wants to suggest that we’re not providing jobs and opportunity for everyone in this state, they need to get the facts straight before they comment on things they just don’t understand,” Kemp said.
Abrams is seeking traction against a Republican incumbent he narrowly trails in the polls in a crucial battleground state. The challenger argues that not only Kemp’s tax policies, but also his support for restrictions on abortionLax gun laws and even tighter controls on what is taught in schools threaten the growth of a $683 billion state economy.
Kemp is sticking to the script that Georgia Republicans have followed in 20 years in power. He will tell voters Thursday that if he is re-elected, he will seek a second round of income tax rebates. like the $1.1 billion in payments issued this year, according to a Kemp campaign official with knowledge of the plans who spoke on condition of anonymity. This year’s payments gave two-income households $500, single adults with dependents $375 and single adults $250.
The governor will also seek to revive a property tax break that succumbed in 2009 amid the state budget crisis caused by the Great Recession, the official said at a preview of Kemp’s announcement. The tax break, created by Democrat Roy Barnes in 1999, cost the state $428 million in its final year in 2008, saving homeowners between $200 and $300 in tax bills.
Kemp said Wednesday that he wants to “help Georgians further fight the 40-year high inflation and extremely high costs our citizens are experiencing,” focusing on the unpopularity of Democratic President Joe Biden.
Kemp can dole out cash because Georgia’s coffers are full. The state had a surplus of about $5 billion in the year ended June 30, with more than $2 billion in surplus still on deposit from the prior year.
The governor has also repeatedly renewed a five-month gasoline tax exemption.. His administration plans to use the surplus to funnel money toward highway construction instead of the $750 million in fuel taxes that no longer apply. Kemp also signed a state income tax cut beginning in 2024 and could eventually cut taxes by more than $2 billion.
Abrams has already filed for another round of income tax refunds.. He has also asked Kemp to suspend the gas tax until the end of 2022 and vowed not to try to reverse the income tax cut, even though he criticizes the benefits for the wealthy.
“While Brian Kemp is following the lead of Stacey Abrams by asking for tax refunds, he continues to push an extreme and dangerous agenda that threatens Georgia families and puts our economy at risk,” Abrams spokesman Alex Floyd said.
Kemp accuses Abrams of endorsing his policies just because they are popular.
“She criticized all of those things before she came out and now she’s rooting for them,” he said.
Abrams criticized the property tax exemption in a speech Tuesday, calling it “paying the property taxes of mansion owners and millionaires.” The Census Bureau says that 66% of Georgians are homeowners, but Abrams focuses on housing affordability and the Kemp administration’s stammering payment of federal COVID-19 relief to tenants.
Kemp used the power of incumbency to trample on Republican challenger David Perdue, delivering benefits and legislative achievements before the May primaries. But he would have to wait until after any re-election for legislative approval of his new plans, barring a special election-season session.
The governor would tap into Georgia’s record $21.2 billion in state-incentivized business investment last year, and businesses would commit to creating 51,000 jobs. Georgia also has a record unemployment rate.
Abrams argues that many, especially in rural Georgia, are missing out. She points out that Georgia’s income rankings have fallen during the two decades of Republican rule.
“Most Georgia families are doing everything right,” Abrams said Tuesday, advocating for more state investment in education and health care to boost everyone. “They have full-time jobs. They are saving a little when they can despite the price increase. However, middle-class families are struggling.”
“The only reason Georgians are worried about falling into poverty in rural Georgia right now is because Stacey Abrams helped Joe Biden get elected president,” he said Wednesday, “and we have high inflation of 40 years old and everything they’re buying: whether it’s butter, eggs, milk, meat, any other protein, it’s astronomical right now.”
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