Mon, May 20, 2024

Final words on 2024 Georgia legislative session

The 2024 session of the Georgia Legislature is in the history book. Gov. Brian Kemp has finished signing or vetoing legislation passed during the session and the postmortems are underway.

The Columbia County Chamber of Commerce held its annual post-legislative breakfast on May 9. The keynote speaker was one of the leaders of the Georgia Legislature, House Speaker Jon Burns.

Burns touched on some of what he sees as the most important bills passed during the session, most of which the governor has signed.

He started with the legislature’s consistency in passing a budget that is balanced, in accordance with Georgia law. After that he said, came the question of what to do with the $15 billion surplus.

“So, one of the things we do is make sure, as we’ve been doing over the last few years, we’ve returned over $5 billion to Georgians. We’re proud of that number,” he said. “What we’ve been working on in the House is to lower our income tax rate to get it to 4.99%. This year, we’re able to speed up that process and we’re lowering your income tax rate to 5.39%.”

On May 7, the governor signed the more than $36 billion budget that begins July 1. In addition to the income tax reduction, it includes more spending on education, including higher teacher pay, raises for state employees, and more funding for health care and mental health programs.

“This budget in particular will help us further promote economic prosperity in communities all across the state, provide Georgia students a quality education, care for the health and wellbeing of our families, and ensure the safety of our neighborhoods,” said Kemp in a statement. “And because we’ve budgeted conservatively and refused to spend beyond our means, we’re able to invest in these core areas while cutting taxes at the same time.

Burns said two other accomplishments were the passage of HB 880, streamlining the process for military spouses to transfer professional licenses issued in other states to Georgia, and HB 1339, revising the state’s Certificate of Need (CON) process for expanding or building new healthcare facilities.

The Speaker also praised the legislature’s funding of a second medical school in Georgia and thanked the leadership of Augusta University and Medical College of Georgia for helping see the vision to fruition. The school is currently under construction in Athens. There will also be a second dental college on the Armstrong Campus of Georgia Southern University in Savannah, also in conjunction with Augusta University.

Speaking with ABD, Burns said he was disappointed the governor vetoed HB 1019.

“We are disappointed about the homestead exemption because we know there’s an increase in the value of our homesteads and properties across the state because of our great success, because of people wanting to come here. So, we want to address that issue,” he said.

Burns said there was some confusion between the House and Senate. The House wanted to raise it from $2,000 to $4,000. The Senate changed that in committee, first increasing it to $10,000, then switching back to $4,000 when it came to the Senate floor.

The measure needed approval by Georgia voters and the language in the ballot text still had the higher amount.

“Voters would therefore be approving a different exemption which the legislature did not pass, while the statutory language would never receive the voter approval needed for it to take effect,” said Kemp in the statement explaining the veto. “This conflict between the statutory language and the referendum language precludes implementation of House Bill 1019.”

Burns was one of the co-sponsors of the bill to increase the statewide homestead tax exemption. He expects it will be re-introduced in the 2025 legislative session.

Subscribe to our eNewsletter for the BEST local business news delivered to your Inbox each week day.

* indicates required

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More Posts

No room at the inn!

Great news on the manufacturing front in both Augusta and Aiken. Mike Petchenik has more in this week’s Biz Bits. Subscribe to our eNewsletter for

Hitting Rock Bottom

Stephanie Stuckey’s turnaround in the family brand is nothing short of remarkable. Recently, she told our ABD’s Inspire 24 audience how it almost didn’t happen

Brews, bites, and barks

Sometimes, business dreams are worth waiting for. When Andrew Phifer, an engineer, and his wife, Rachel, an accountant, found themselves more apart than together because