Oct 3, 2022 - News

How do you spend $6.6 billion?

Illustration of a pair of legs sticking out from a pile of money.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Starting next year, whoever occupies the Georgia governor's mansion will open up the state's checking account and address a great problem to have: how to spend $6.6 billion in surplus cash.

Why it matters: The unprecedented spending opportunity allows Gov. Brian Kemp and Democratic nominee Stacey Abrams to show voters their priorities — ones on which they can deliver using real-life cash.

Catch up quick: With rising inflation came bigger sales tax collections, per the AJC. The additional revenue and higher wages helped fuel a red-hot 22% rise in cash flowing into the state's coffers.

  • The result: A bounty of riches for Kemp or Abrams to spend on programs, rebates, pay raises for state employees and more.

Details: Kemp, who is already using the surplus to cover the suspension of the state gas tax, wants to issue $1 billion in tax rebates and another $1 billion in property tax rebates for homeowners. A spokesman said he would work with the General Assembly to allocate the rest.

The other side: Abrams also says she'd use the cash to pay for an extension of the state gas tax suspension. She is also proposing $1 billion in tax rebates — but only for those making less than $250,000 per year.

  • The rest would be split among a swath of her core policy proposals including Medicaid expansion and a bump in law enforcement and teacher pay with some surplus still leftover.

Think big: What else could $6.6 billion buy? You could pay for 1.5 Beltlines. Order nearly 2 billion waffles from Waffle House. Hire over 100,000 social workers. Fund Atlanta's to-do list of sidewalks, bridges and repaving projects over the next 20 years — and still have roughly $3 billion leftover.

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