- 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.
For Kanso, the urgency caused by the pandemic means it makes sense for the governor to have wide authority over the fund, though he’d like to see the legislature take a more significant role. “By no means is the full General Assembly represented,” he said.
Kanso also thinks the governor should act swiftly to provide relief to those Georgians affected the most. “There's a responsibility to act for those families who are suffering when we have the resources in hand to do so,” he said.
“I think it's fair to say that the state has been very slow to unveil its plans to use those ARP funds,” said Kanso.
Denson, of the GPPF, advocates for a more restrained approach to spending the money. Kemp should limit spending those funds first to cover any debts incurred throughout the pandemic, and then put funds towards projects that are "one-time only and do not commit or do not develop a program that comes at a recurring cost to the state,” he said.
“We don't believe there's a rush to spend this money unnecessarily, especially given the surplus that the state is running,” Denson said, adding that “prudence is probably the best course of action at this time.”
Meanwhile, the GBPI’s polling of Georgians’ views showed that the public generally wants to see those funds used to assist public K-12 education funding, direct payments for low-income families, and restore state budget cuts that took effect last year.
Now, with the passage of Biden’s infrastructure bill through Congress, and more money heading Georgia’s way, more questions arise about how those will factor into how ARP money is spent. Kanso and Denson both indicated that because the infrastructure bill includes funding for water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure, it is reasonable for Kemp and the committees tasked with awarding grants in those areas to proceed more slowly and cautiously.
Still, Kanso sees the need for Kemp to act more immediately when it comes to relieving Georgians who might be hurting now because of the pandemic.
“We are seeing plans develop as other states step up to the plate here, and you know the pandemic is not going to wait for this process to unfold,” Kanso said, adding “There's a responsibility to start to put details here, and to act with the urgency that reflects the challenges that we're dealing with.”
What do you think Gov. Kemp should do with the America Rescue Plan funds at his disposal? Share your thoughts and questions: [email protected]
Read this story for free.Create Account
Read this story for free
Already a member? Login here
Q&A: Georgia’s new ag commissioner says agriculture is more than ‘cows, sows & plows’
Tyler Harper makes no apologies for vigorously preserving and guarding Georgia’s farmland. “Agriculture at the end of the day is national security,” Georgia’s newest agriculture commissioner told State Affairs. “We’ve got to ensure that we’re protecting our food supply and providing the food, the fiber, the shelter for ourselves right here at home.” Harper became …
Q&A: New Department of Labor commissioner is taking stock and making changes, aiming for a better experience for Georgians
When Bruce Thompson says he has an open-door policy, he means it. Literally. The badge-only elevator access to his sixth-floor executive suite in downtown Atlanta is gone, removed shortly after his arrival in January as Georgia labor commissioner. “We’re treating it like any other floor now. The doors are wide open,” Thompson told State Affairs. …
COMMENTARY: Uncovering the truth: The role Freedom of Information laws play in student journalism
Editor’s note: The New Leaders Association (NLA), formerly the American Society of News Editors, created Sunshine Week 17 years ago to promote open government. NLA and the Society of Professional Journalists host the national celebration of access to public information and what it means to citizens across the country. We asked Rohan Movva, a high …
Georgia bills that will live to see more lively debate, and a few that won’t
The Gist Monday marked a critical deadline for state lawmakers — the last opportunity for dozens of bills to pass at least one chamber in the Georgia General Assembly. “Crossover Day,” as it’s known, this year featured a cavalcade of bills receiving rapid-fire discussion, debate and votes, one after the other, from morning to almost …