Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp is set to give nearly $2 billion back to taxpayers in the state amid his re-election contest with Democrat Stacey Abrams.
Kemp announced Thursday afternoon that Georgia has a budget surplus of $5 billion and said a bulk of the funds would be returned to taxpayers through various initiatives.
“I believe that isn’t the government’s money,” Kemp said at a news conference in the state Capitol, FOX 5 of Atlanta reported. “It’s yours and our job isn’t to spend it all just because we can.”
“We want to give you, the citizens, your money back, because it’s going to be more than we just need to spend on wasteful projects,” he added, noting the government would not benefit if it were to allocate the funds to state programs as it would not necessarily be in next year’s budget.
“This is one-time money,” Kemp continued. “If you build new government programs with one-time money, it’s not going to be there the next year and she’s not going to be able to pay for all the plans that she is putting out there without raising your taxes and that is a fact.”
In his proposal, about $1 billion of the surplus will be given back in income tax rebates, including $250 for single filers, $375 for heads of household with dependents, and $500 for joint filers, FOX 5 reported.
Kemp said the other $1 billion would be given to property owners through a “Georgia Homeowner Rebate,” which would provide around $500 on average for those who regularly receive a homestead exemption.
“As home prices skyrocket across the country, local property tax bills here in Georgia are hitting homeowners especially hard,” Kemp said. “For families struggling to make ends meet, I know that higher bills in the mail can force cutting back on other household necessities. For young Georgians just getting settled into their first home or parents who are sending their kids off to college, unforeseen jumps in property values and local tax bills over the last year only add to the uncertain times that we are in.”
Abrams, Kemps’ Democratic opponent in the gubernatorial election, called the budget surplus a “once-in-a-generation” opportunity and suggested a similar proposal last month. However, her proposal did not extend to all Georgians.
“I will use our once-in-a-generation surplus to solve foundational challenges, not buy election year goodwill,” Abrams said, via FOX 5. “It’s why I have already proposed that we deliver stimulus checks to Georgians making $250,000 or less instead of paying off the property taxes of mansion owners and millionaires.”
The state legislature will have to approve any spending proposal before the money is given to taxpayers.