Georgia’s Governor has Nearly $5 Billion in Pandemic Relief to Spend. How Will He Use It?

Photo Credit: Alessandro Marazzi Sassoon

Key Points
  • Georgia is set to receive $17.4 billion in American Rescue Plan funds through 2024.
  • $4.8 billion of that goes towards the State Fiscal Recovery Fund that Gov. Brian Kemp has direct discretion over.
  • Georgia is unlike most states because the power over that fund is entirely the governor’s.

It’s been eight months since the American Rescue Plan (ARP) granted Georgia billions of dollars to spend. Where $4.8 billion worth of the money will go is up to one man: Gov. Brian Kemp. 

In most states, the legislature controls the distribution of federal funds. Georgia is just one of five states where the governor is left with sole discretion over how to spend the $4.8 billion State Fiscal Recovery Fund, which makes up nearly a quarter of the state’s total ARP allocation of $17.4 billion, according to the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget. But Kemp has yet to tell the public what he intends to do with most of that money.

“That’s money the governor's office has direct authority over, they have an enormous amount of latitude, but they really have not given much clarity as to how those funds will be used,” said Danny Kanso, a senior policy analyst at the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute (GBPI). 

In this story, State Affairs broke down what the State Fiscal Recovery Fund is, what it's for, what Gov. Kemp has planned for it so far and what important questions remain unanswered.

Our Story

Part I: What is the State Fiscal Recovery Fund?

The American Rescue Plan is a massive federal spending bill that passed through Congress. Gov. Kemp had wide discretion over a significant portion of the funds slated for the Peach State.

Part II: Kemp’s Plan for the State Fiscal Recovery Fund

Gov. Kemp has announced some plans to spend the $4.8 billion made available to him through ARP, including setting up three committees to review grant applications from the public. What do we know so far?

Part III: Urgency and Caution: How Soon Should Money be spent?

Everyone agrees that the Covid-19 pandemic is a once-in-a-century emergency, but there's a debate as to how quickly Gov. Kemp should spend federal dollars to assist with Georgia's recovery.