Georgia Gov. Kemp announces $1K year-end bonus for teachers, state employees: ‘Wholly appropriate’

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, said Monday that the state government will be giving a $1,000 retention pay year-end bonus to more than 300,000 state employees, teachers and school support staff.

Around 112,000 eligible, full-time state and university employees will receive their $1,000 by the end of the year while school districts will determine when the roughly 196,000 teachers and school support staff across the state will receive the bonus.

Elected officials and judges will not be receiving the year-end payment.

“Given how hard these men and women have worked to serve Georgians during the pandemic, to help keep our community safe, and to help make the state government more streamlined and efficient, this seems wholly appropriate to me,” Kemp said at the Georgia State Capitol on Monday.

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Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said the state government will be giving a $1,000 retention pay year-end bonus to more than 300,000 state employees, teachers and school support staff. (Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)

The Kemp administration said it is still reviewing whether it will propose permanent pay raises in the upcoming budget, although the governor and top Republican state lawmakers are beginning to suggest that they expect permanent pay increases. Lawmakers delivered $7,000 in pay raises for state and university employees, and teachers during Kemp’s time as the state’s top executive.

The nearly $330 million in overall bonuses will come out of the current year’s budget and lawmakers will approve the money in a budget amendment when they return to the legislature in January. The bonus is slated to appear in employees’ last paycheck in December.

“It’s going to be a good Christmas and New Year here in Georgia,” Kemp said. “And there’s more good news coming in the weeks and months ahead. So, stay tuned.”

The bonus, which is expected to be an incentive for teachers and employees to hold their current jobs, comes after Georgia Department of Education data from earlier this year showed statewide teacher retention has dropped for the last two years.

“We have heard from our agency heads about the need to retain those with valuable skills and knowledge,” Kemp said. “This one-time end-of-year retention payment will help us do just that.”

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Brian Kemp speech

The nearly $330 million in overall bonuses will come out of the current year’s budget. (Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The governor also said he would propose a permanent $104 million yearly allocation for school security, which would provide $45,000 to every public school in the state and allow for ongoing spending. Kemp said schools could use the money for any security purpose believed to be necessary, but that it is meant to underwrite a school security officer for each school.

“This $45,000 number was really a number where if the schools want to hire a school resource officer, this funding should be able to take care of that,” he said. “That’s what it was designed for, really, so we could have a school resource officer in every school, if that’s what the locals want.”

Kemp and state lawmakers have previously delivered multiple rounds of one-time school security payments totaling $184 million.

GOP Lt. Gov. Burt Jones, who supports Kemp’s plan, has also proposed paying teachers and school employees an additional $10,000 a year to become certified to carry a firearm on campus to further strengthen school security.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp

Elected officials and judges will not be receiving the year-end payment, Kemp said. (AP Photo/Alex Slitz, File)

The state’s amended 2024 fiscal year budget will include both the pay supplement and security funding.

“We are remaining competitive and rewarding our teachers and state employees for their diligent and devoted work in service to the people of our state,” Kemp wrote Monday afternoon on X, formerly Twitter. “Let’s keep working to keep Georgia the best place to live, work and raise a family.”

Kemp can propose new spending since state tax collections are on track to run another multibillion-dollar surplus despite signs that tax revenue is in a slight decline. Georgia has already created $11 billion in unallocated surplus on top of its legally designated $5.4 billion rainy day account that the governor and lawmakers can spend as they see fit.

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Georgia’s fiscal year 2023 budget included $2,000 raises for state employees, public university employees, technical college employees, public school teachers, state-funded public librarians and teachers in state-funded preschool programs. K-12 school cafeteria workers, bus drivers and nurses received 5% salary increases.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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