Most Georgia state employees in line for $1,000 bonuses in amended budget deal


More than 50,000 state employees could receive one-time bonuses of $1,000 this fiscal year, Gov. Brian Kemp and other state leaders announced Wednesday.

Appropriations leaders in the Senate and House have agreed to earmark $59.6 million in the amended fiscal year budget to issue the bonuses to most state employees who make less than $80,000 a year.

House Speaker David Ralston, R- Blue Ridge, said about 57,000 state employees qualify for the bonuses. State leaders already have proposed one-time bonuses for teachers and pay increases for corrections employees.

“We wanted to extend that $1,000 bonus beyond our teachers to many of our frontline state employees who have also served our citizens through the worst days of this pandemic,” Ralston said.

Ralston said the plan was devised during joint budget discussions between Senate and House appropriations leaders. The General Assembly is finalizing changes to the state's amended spending plan for fiscal year 2021, which ends June 30.

Kemp, in his State of the State address, recommended the one-time bonuses for educators from federal aid. Lawmakers also were able to redirect funds for 10% raises for corrections employees.

Ralston said the employees at the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia and some state authorities would be excluded from the plan, but he believes there might be a way to issue bonuses for them if funds become available in the future.

The House and the Senate have approved their proposals for the $26.5 billion amended budget for fiscal 2021, including a $654 million increase in spending over the original budget. Since two versions of the spending proposal were approved, a conference committee with members from both chambers met to negotiate a final version of the bill.

Both chambers of the General Assembly must approve the final bill before it is sent to Kemp. The governor can strike out portions of the bill through a line-item veto.

The existing proposals add five new state positions in public health and one position to oversee unemployment claims. Lawmakers also have recommended spending more than $66 million to purchase or replace more than 1,000 state vehicles, including 500 school buses.

Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan said they expect to pass a budget “that is fiscally conservative” and one that reflects their “values.”

“It's a testament to the promises we've made to all Georgians, but we aren't here today to just let state employees in every corner see us at just this moment in time,” Duncan said. “We are committed to them long-term and we appreciate you.”

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