So far, Kemp set aside $100 million for first responders’ one-time bonuses and $110 million to address the judicial backlog from COVID-19.
Additionally, Kemp set up three committees in June to review grant proposals from the public on water and sewer infrastructure, broadband infrastructure, and relief for businesses negatively impacted by the pandemic. How much money will be spent that way is still unknown and the state has delayed the original timetable for the grant process by several months. According to the governor’s office, award decisions are now expected by January 2022.
In response to questions from State Affairs, Kemp’s office said those three committees will award “a portion that has yet to be determined” of the money at their disposal.
There have also been calls for the allocation of funding to be put through the legislature, the way Georgia’s annual budget is decided. The three committees Kemp created include a mix of state appointees such as agency heads and some members of the General Assembly.
“The Georgia General Assembly is well represented on the committees and involved in current discussions on allocation of ARP funds,” Kemp’s office told State Affairs in response to those concerns.
Chris Denson, Director of Policy and Research at the Georgia Public Policy Foundation (GPPF), said Kemp’s appointment of the committees to include members of the legislature was “noble, in that there is a level of direct democratic engagement… just given that inherently within the legislation the governor has full discretion to spend those funds as he sees fit.”
“More than likely, the governor has some spending priorities of his own, but with $4.8 billion, it allows for both the governor's priorities and some of these grants that the general public has requested,” said Denson of the GPPF. Denson said he would be surprised if most of the money ended up awarded through the three committees’ grant process.