The dueling philosophies on how to use a surplus expected to exceed $5 billion is another political difference between the candidates who have diverged on pressing issues such as education, health care, abortion, weapons fire and public safety.
But with the economy the top priority for most Georgian voters, rival financial platforms are set to gain an even bigger slice of political attention ahead of a November rematch between the two opponents.
The two are already sharpening their economic attacks, with Kemp calling the Democrat’s vision of ‘absolutely crazy’ spending that will be impossible to sustain without raising taxes, while Abrams attacks the incumbent’s ‘stingy’ philosophy and near-term prospects. as she tries to overtake her lead in the polls.
“We know with absolute certainty that we can do this job without raising taxes,” Abrams said in an interview. “It’s not a short-term thing. You can use the surplus to incorporate these changes into our budget and ensure they are self-sustaining.
Abrams is trying to channel anger and outrage over Georgia’s anti-abortion limits and permissive gun laws into a larger argument that Republican policies are costing Georgia economic development opportunities.
Along with his vows to roll back gun expansion and restore abortion rights protections, Abrams designed his suite of tax policies in hopes of building a more equitable and diverse economy over the long term.
His plan calls for more funding for apprenticeships and small business creation, increased incentives for rural development, expanded broadband access and new ways to help community-owned businesses. minorities to win lucrative public contracts.
She pledged to spend part of the surplus on a $1.1 billion income tax refund for all but the wealthiest Georgian families. And she will tap deeper into state coffers to expand Medicaid and provide pay raises for teachers and some law enforcement officers.
Her policy is shaped by the promise that she will not raise state taxes, but rather find other ways to raise revenue – “that’s why we need a governor who be good at math,” she said. jokes in the election campaign.
The biggest new prize pool would be generated by his proposal to legalize casino gambling and sports betting. Most of the proceeds from his plan would fund free technical college and a need-based graduate scholarship.
Georgians, she said, have been trained by Republican governors over the past two decades “to believe that we can’t afford to do the right thing, solve big problems and make bold choices. will not work”.
“But when we were bold, when we were brave, we were the best,” she said. “Georgians deserve leadership that doesn’t trickle down to opportunity. Instead, we need a governor who says if you’re willing to work for it, I’ll work with you to make it happen.
The governor’s economic program is more limited, though it still involves 10-figure initiatives with plans to spend about $2 billion in state surplus next year on a pair of programs.
The first is a $1 billion state surplus rebate that would deliver $500 checks to many Georgian families next year. This follows another $1 billion refund Kemp signed into law earlier this year. Most of these checks have already been sent.
The second plan is to revive property tax relief that died out during the Great Recession. That could mean an average property tax savings of $500 for most homeowners for just one year, though lawmakers could seek to extend the break.
So far, Kemp’s financial message has focused on his decision to reopen parts of the economy in the first weeks of the coronavirus pandemic – at a time when he was criticized from all quarters – and on the major economic projects that have chosen Georgia under his supervision.
With the first elements of his second-term platform unveiled, Kemp said he was determined not to push more ambitious multi-year policies.
“It’s all about one-time money,” he said of the surplus. “If you build big government programs with one-time money, it won’t be there next year.”
Of Abrams, he said voters should be skeptical: “She won’t be able to afford all the plans she comes up with, and that’s a fact.”
Both candidates are set to focus their campaigns on their economic narrative in a difficult political climate for Democrats.
Republican strategist Brian Robinson said Kemp’s economic message resonates, one reason the latest Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll shows a majority of voters approving of his record while they are more pessimistic about the President Joe Biden.
“You can stand aside at football practice and hear parents talking about their friends in California whose kids are behind in school, whose businesses are struggling,” he said. declared. “These parents connect our relative normality to Brian Kemp.”
Democrats are betting voters are hungry for more sweeping policy overhauls on the heels of federal moves to tackle climate change, fund new infrastructure projects and slow rising prescription drug costs.
U.S. Representative Nikema Williams, chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Georgia, summed up that sentiment during a stop this week in downtown Atlanta.
“We don’t do anything small here, y’all.”