Gov. Brian Kemp delivered his fifth State of the State address Wednesday morning. It was his first after being re-elected.
Kemp talked about a lot of issues, but education was chief among them. His budget would fully fund the Georgia Quality Basic Education Act and the HOPE Scholarship.
Democrats say that’s great, but they want to see more.
During his speech, Kemp said the state of the state is good.
“Because of the resolve shown by the people of Georgia, because of the resolve they continue to show, the state of our state has never been stronger or more resilient,” Kemp said.
The governor laid out his agenda for the upcoming legislative session including a focus on law enforcement, healthcare, and economic development.
He also said his budget will include nearly $2 billion to fully fund QBE and a $2,000 pay raise for teachers.
“Obviously, we are happy the budget includes a $2000 pay increase for teachers,” said Lisa Morgan, Georgia Association of Educators President.
Morgan thanked the governor for the raise but added maybe it’s time to scrap the old QBE formula for something new -- something echoed by other lawmakers.
“We do need more counselors, mental health professionals in our schools, and that we do need that poverty rate for our students who live in poverty,” Morgan said.
In the end, Kemp called on bipartisanship inside the General Assembly to work for the people of Georgia.
“They have given us our marching orders, and it’s time to get back to work. So for the Georgians of today and tomorrow, let’s get it done,” Kemp said.
Kemp also proposed more crackdowns on human trafficking, gang violence, and no-cash bail.
“When men and women are putting themselves in harm’s way and literally in the line of fire, you can imagine their frustration when one of those criminals ends up right back out on the street in a matter of hours just to terrorize those streets further,” Kemp said.
Democrats pledged their support for law enforcement but added, they’d like to see more discussion about ways to address the rash of gun violence seen in recent years. They want to see the repeal of the “Carry Everywhere” law passed by the General Assembly last year.
“When it comes to public safety, we can’t discuss this issue, we cannot have safer communities if we do not talk about common sense gun safety reform,” said State Rep. Sam Park, D-Lawrenceville.
In their response, state Democrats said they appreciate the $2,000 pay raise for teachers but think it should be even higher.
They want a $10,000 raise and the establishment of regular wage increases.