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Kemp doubles down on public safety policy in Georgia Chamber speech

Maggie Lee
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp on stage at the 2020 Georgia Chamber of Commerce Eggs & Issues breakfast
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp on stage Wednesday at the 2020 Georgia Chamber of Commerce Eggs & Issues breakfast. Credit: Maggie Lee

By Maggie Lee

At a speech in front of business leaders from all over the state, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said that this year he and allies plan to work with the state legislature this year on anti-gang and anti-child-trafficking policy.

But more details on things like education, health care and spending will emerge later this week, when Kemp delivers his state of the state address on Thursday and possibly publishes a draft budget.

“We will invest in education, strengthen our anti-gang and human trafficking laws and continue to spur economic growth by eliminating red tape for job creators,” Kemp said to an audience of about 2,600 people at the Georgia Chamber of Commerce Eggs & Issues breakfast at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta on Wednesday morning.

Via a tweet, Kemp said Wednesday was for reflecting on 2019, and to expect his blueprint for the future on Thursday.

At the Wednesday breakfast, Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan announced the formation of the “Georgia Innovates” task force, a group to help champion, guide and consult on public policy.

“We’re going to create the strategy necessary for Georgia to become the technology capitol of the East Coast,” Duncan said, echoing a pledge he’s made before.

Former U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson and former Georgia Tech President Bud Peterson will be co-chairs.

Members will include Chairman, President and CEO of Georgia Power, Paul Bowers; Ogeechee Technical College President Lori Durden; Knight Foundation Program Director Lynn Murphey; Atlanta Committee for Progress Executive Director Shan Cooper; Invesco Atlanta President and CEO Martin Flanagan; co-founder and Executive Chairman of Pindrop and co-founder and Partner of TechSquare Labs, Paul Judge; Albany Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Barbara Rivera Holmes; CEO of Xana Management Jeb Stewart and Managing Director of Georgia Tech’s Smart Cities and Inclusive Innovation, Debra Lam.

Only House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, made much mention of the budget — or Georgia’s lean revenue numbers in some months recently. Ralston said Lawmakers will have to balance their priorities.

Kemp has directed many state departments to cut 6% for their budgets for the year that will begin in July. Some of the biggest budget lines are exempt, like K-12 education and Medicaid insurance for poorer Georgians, but those grow anyway with population.

“We will carefully scrutinize this year’s budget, bearing in mind that nearly 11 million Georgians are impacted by those numbers, Ralston said.

He also said that no end date has yet been set for the annual legislative session, and he doesn’t intend to set one until there is a clear picture of the budget timeline.

“Budget decisions that impact people of this state, I believe, are too important to be influenced by a legislative calendar,” Ralston said.

Maggie Lee
Maggie Lee

Maggie Lee is a freelance reporter who's been covering Georgia and metro Atlanta government and politics since 2008.

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