Georgia government to secure another $5 billion budget surplus

Atlanta – Georgia plans to collect an additional $5 billion in surplus revenue after the just enacted budget year, giving Congress and Gov. Brian Kemp more than $10 billion to spend, invest or give back to taxpayers of additional cash may remain. This equates to approximately $1,000 per Georgian resident.

Final figures for the 2023 budget year ending June 30 will not be known for several weeks. But figures released by the State Department of Revenue on Wednesday showed the tax revenues the agency collected rivaled last year’s $33 billion, while Republican Kemp estimated $5.4 billion less.

In the third year of the huge surplus, following $3.7 billion in 2021 and $6.4 billion in 2022, Republicans cut college budgets, refused to fully extend Medicaid health insurance to poor adults, and pushed state Critics say it deliberately curbs spending while watching employees flee.

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Danny Kanso, a senior financial analyst at the liberal-leaning Georgia Institute for Budget Policy, said that leaders were “throwing billions of dollars on the table to amass ever-larger reserves without a clear purpose.” I am actively choosing to keep it,” he said.

The surge in revenues that began during the pandemic continued in Budget Year 2023 due to significant increases in corporate and sales tax collections despite a decline in personal income taxes.

Overall tax collections have cooled in recent months, with tax collections in June down 0.4% compared to the same month in 2022. But the state will have to expect a disastrous $5 billion drop in tax revenue for the 2024 budget year, which begins July 1. We may not be able to achieve the required forecast for the current year. That means Georgia is likely to post a fourth straight year of surplus unless Mr. Kemp and his legislators either significantly increase spending or cut taxes.

“The Governor will work closely with the General Assembly on prioritizing how the state’s lump sum money will be used in a strategic and financially responsible manner without allocating short-term revenue increases to long-term obligations. We look forward to it,” said Andrews. In his statement, Eisenhour said:

However, after three years of significant surpluses, it’s not clear if the increased revenue is a short-term gain. During last year’s campaign, Democrat Stacey Abrams suggested using some of the surplus money to launch new programs. But Mr. Kemp’s re-election has cracked the state’s wallet just a little bit. By law, the governor sets a cap on the amount of money legislators can spend.

Atlanta Democratic Senator Nunn Orloch said too many state services were “starving” and it was time for Kemp to increase spending.

“He’s missed his earnings projections by a wide margin, and it’s time to move away from accumulating cash surpluses and hoarding,” Mr. Orlok said. “It’s time to come to the table with a plan to fund the services that the people of Georgia so desperately need.”

But Republican Lieutenant Governor Bert Jones said the state should pursue its goal of phasing out Georgia’s income tax.

“It’s time to consider ways to lower state income taxes and return more money to families in Georgia, while keeping our budgets balanced and fiscally accountable,” Jones said in a statement.

Mr. Kemp turned a profit this year with a second round of state income tax refunds of $1 billion, returning $250 to $500 to taxpayers. But the property tax refund program, which gives the typical homeowner about $500, was paid within budget, spending some of the state’s increased revenue.

Lawmakers revised the June 30-ending budget to increase spending by $2.4 billion, but revenue could have allowed for much more. The total spending budget, which includes federal funds, lottery earnings, and other fees and taxes collected by state agencies, was $61.6 billion.

Beyond the unallocated surplus, Georgia also has $5.2 billion in contingency funds. By law, up to 15% of the previous year’s tax collection is included for budget shortfalls and other crises. State tax collections were flat, so the rainy day fund should basically stay flat.

Eisenhour said part of the money will be needed for mid-year adjustment of schools from kindergarten to high school, which will cost $350 million. Kemp said in January that he would ask lawmakers to spend more in the current budget to cover the higher costs of inflation, he said.

Georgia’s budget is to educate 1.7 million K-12 students, 435,000 college students, house 47,000 state prisoners, pave 18,000 miles (29,000 kilometers) of highways, and treat mental illness. , developmental disabilities, drug addiction and more. alcohol.

Copyright 2023 by The Associated Press – All rights reserved.

https://www.news4jax.com/news/georgia/2023/07/15/still-in-the-money-georgia-government-will-pocket-another-5-billion-budget-surplus/ Georgia government to secure another $5 billion budget surplus

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