Gov. Brian Kemp officially got four more years Thursday to call the Georgia governor’s mansion home. He was sworn in for his second term by state Supreme Court Justice Carla Wong McMillian after defeating Democratic rival Stacey Abrams in November’s election.
In his remarks to the crowd at Georgia State University’s Convocation Center in Atlanta, Kemp chalked up his win to meeting the needs of real people rather than pandering to elites.
“The deal that we offered voters was that your state government should care a lot more about safe streets, good schools and good paying jobs than what the pundits are saying on the cable news,” he said.
On the campaign trail, Kemp ran on his record from his first four years, and on Thursday, he pledged to stay the course.
“We will keep our foot on the gas by bringing good paying jobs and greater opportunity to every corner of the Peach state,” he said. “We will ensure that our kids have the resources they need to overcome learning loss and find success in the classroom instead of teaching them what to think. We will leverage state resources to support law enforcement, toughen penalties for criminals, crack down on human trafficking, and use every tool at our disposal to keep your family safe.”
One of Kemp’s first duties in his second term will be to release a state budget for the 12 months starting in July. He said those numbers will be available Friday.
“The budgets my office will release tomorrow make historic investments in our schools, our safety, our citizens, and our future. These budgets, cut taxes, return billions back to taxpayers, and fund our priorities. One of these many priorities is our state employees. Any business organization is only as good as its people,” he said.
Kemp announced a new $2,000 pay raise for state employees, which he said will be available to everyone from state law enforcement officers to teachers and other school employees.
“And speaking of our schools, we know we need more teachers,” he said. “We need to help our kids recover from learning loss and keep our classrooms safe. In addition to fully funding our schools once again, my budget will include over $150 million in one-time grant opportunities for local school districts to address school security, learning loss and help some of our more than 9,000 parapros become fully certified teachers.”
Kemp said his budget proposal also includes two major campaign trail promises: a $1 billion income tax refund and a $1.1 billion property tax relief grant.
Alongside Kemp, Georgia’s other top constitutional officers took their oaths of office, including Labor Commissioner Bruce Thompson, Insurance and Fire Commissioner John F. King, State School Superintendent Richard Woods, Agriculture Commissioner Tyler Harper, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, Attorney General Chris Carr and Lt. Gov. Burt Jones.
Jones, who will preside over the state Senate, pledged to bring “small-town values” like cooperation to the body. Jones’ hometown is Jackson, Georgia, population 5,000.
“We can work together to reduce costs, make life more affordable for families by lowering the state income tax, returning more money back to hardworking Georgians, supporting our law enforcement and strengthening sentencing guidelines for violent and repeat offenders to improve our overall public safety,” he said. “Increasing education funding will continue, and we want to continue to invest in our health care system, including mental health services, to create a safer, healthier and stronger Georgia.”
Kemp ended his speech with a pledge to serve all Georgians.
“We may disagree on policy or politics. We may not see eye to eye on important issues facing our state,” he said. “There may be another pandemic, another contentious election or another natural disaster. But my promise to you today remains the same that it was then: if tomorrow morning God sends us another struggle, I will roll up my sleeves and go to work, and also, I have no doubt that people in this state will endure whatever we face, and we will do it together.”
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