Axios Atlanta

Picture of the Atlanta skyline.

Today's weather: Sunny, clear, cool. High of 54.

๐Ÿงช Situational awareness: Fulton County opens a mega COVID testing site in The Home Depot Backyard at Mercedes Benz Stadium today. It'll be open 9am-6pm every day except Tuesdays. Make an appointment here.

  • We won't publish a newsletter Monday as we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day. We will see you early Tuesday morning.

Today's newsletter is 904 words โ€” a 3.5-minute read

1 big thing: ๐Ÿ’ฐ How Kemp wants to spend Georgia's money

Brian kemp shakes hands with two men, all wearing masks
Gov. Brian Kemp greets state lawmakers before giving his State of the State address Thursday. AP Photo/Brynn Anderson

One of the strongest powers of Georgia's governorship lies in its influence on the state budget, and Gov. Brian Kemp just outlined his budget plans for the year.

Driving the news: After a strong post-pandemic bounce back with record tax collections and a $2.2 billion surplus, Kemp has a lot of money to work with.

Context: The governor controls the state's revenue estimate โ€” which determines how much money the state can spend. He sets an initial budget proposal and later has a line-item veto on any edits to the budget by the General Assembly.

Some of the details:

  • As previously announced, Kemp plans to give back $250-$500 in income tax refunds to all Georgia residents this year, spending $1.6 billion of the state's budget surplus
  • More than $700 million to fully fund the state's public school system, cover higher education enrollment growth and restore the pandemic austerity cuts made across education in recent years
  • A $2,000 pay raise for public school teachers, one of Kemp's campaign promises
  • A $5,000 raise for all state employees
  • Extending Medicaid coverage for all new mothers from six months to one year after giving birth, and automatically enrolling children in Medicaid as part of any food assistance application
  • $600 million to upgrade prison infrastructure

What they're saying: Danny Kanso, policy analyst with the left-leaning Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, said Kemp's priorities are likely to find bipartisan support and that the state โ€œhas the resources to make progress this session.โ€

  • Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams' campaign manager, Lauren Groh-Wargo, countered that the national Democratic leaders who passed the American Rescue Plan โ€œdeserve creditโ€ for the state's ability to make these investments, not Kemp.

๐Ÿค“ Nerd out and read the governor's full budget report here.

Read the full story.

2. Tour Dr. King's Atlanta

Martin Luther King Jr adjusts his son's tie during a family portrait in their Atlanta home
Martin Luther King Jr. and his wife, Coretta Scott King, sit with three of their four children โ€” Martin Luther King III, 5, Dexter Scott, 2, and Yolanda Denise, 7 โ€” in their Atlanta home. Photo: AP

Some of the important places in Martin Luther King Jr.'s life are closed due to Covid, but that doesn't mean you can't learn about the special places that played a role in the civil rights leader's life.

We asked Tom Houck, King's former driver who now guides civil rights tours of Atlanta, about some of the other important King-related spots in Atlanta.

Auburn Avenue: Perhaps the single most important street in the story of King's life, Houck tells Axios. He grew up there, went to elementary school nearby at David T. Howard, preached at Ebenezer Baptist and planned marches at the Southern Christian Leadership Conference headquarters.

South-View Cemetery: Before being interred at the King Center, King was first buried at this historic cemetery in southeast Atlanta. It's the final resting place of his parents, John Lewis, Julian Bond, Hank Aaron, John Wesley Dobbs and many other notable figures.

Vine City: Though his childhood home on Auburn Avenue is most famous, King and his wife, Coretta, raised their family in a modest house at 234 Sunset Ave. Purchased in 2019 by the National Park Foundation, the home is one of the most popular spots on Houck's civil rights tour.

Read the full story.

3. ๐ŸŒจ๏ธ Chance of wintry mix this weekend in Atlanta

Illustration of a cold emoji chattering its teeth.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

๐Ÿ‘‹๐Ÿฝ Hey, Kristal here!

The predictions are all over the place, but one thing is clear about the weather system moving into north Georgia late tomorrow evening: Some areas should get some winter precipitation.

Why it matters: Any mention of winter weather moving into Atlanta leads to y'all panic-buying bread and milk (please don't do that). If snow or ice sticks, everything shuts down and our attempts at driving become viral gold on social media.

What they're saying: National Weather Service forecaster Dylan Lusk told Axios Thursday that models still show โ€‹โ€‹โ€œa fair amount of uncertainty around what weโ€™re going to get and how much we're going to get.โ€ At this point, Lusk said NWS is pretty confident that the northeast Georgia mountains will see some winter weather.

What about Atlanta? Areas around Atlanta could see some winter precipitation as well as rain, which could be heavy at times. It's still up in the air as to how much snow or ice we'll see and if it will accumulate, Lusk said.

Be smart: To stay in the know, like and follow the National Weather Service - Atlanta Twitter and Facebook and tune into local broadcast networks to get up-to-date information on when the precipitation will start to fall.

Kristal's thought bubble: As long as we don't have another snowmageddon or icepocalypse, I'm good.

Read the full story.

4. A day on, not a day off

People walk past "Fragments," an art work by Paula Scher and Abbot Miller featuring King's handwriting. Photo: Shani Drake/Courtesy of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights
People walk past Fragments, an art work by Paula Scher and Abbot Miller featuring King's handwriting. Photo: Shani Drake/Courtesy of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights

Though the Covid pandemic has caused some celebrations to be held virtually or go on hiatus, there are many ways to celebrate and recognize Monday's Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

The King Center: Virtual events have already begun and will continue over the weekend. Tune in for summits, a book reading and more.

National Center for Civil and Human Rights: Activities on Saturday include interactive storytelling with children's author Mama Koku and spoken-word performances from poet Jon Goode. On Monday, visitors can view the permanent galleries and installations, including "Fragments.โ€

Atlanta History Center: The Buckhead museum is offering in-person and virtual activities for children including crafts and story time, plus events for adults that include talks with authors like Robert Hamilton on the Poor People's Campaign and Deanna Gillespie on the Citizenship Education Program.

Want to get to work? Hands on Atlanta has a directory of 90 volunteer projects in metro Atlanta.

5. Five-ish points: School's out for COVID

Illustration of a soccer player wearing a striped shirt with an Axios logo for a crest and an advertisement reading 5-ish Points.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

๐Ÿฆ  An entire south Georgia school district is closed today due to staffing shortages stemming from COVID-19. (WSB-TV)

โšก Georgia Power will build a substation next to Westside Park. (Urbanize Atlanta)

๐Ÿšจ A Georgia man is among 11 Oath Keepers charged with sedition in relation to the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. (AJC)

๐Ÿ… A company plans to open an indoor farm and bring 100 jobs to metro Atlanta. (WABE)

๐Ÿ’ฐA warehousing company has purchased a southwest Atlanta Nabisco facility that closed last year. (Saporta Report)

๐Ÿ€ College Park Skyhawks general manager Tori Miller, the first Black woman to hold that position in the G League, reflects on her groundbreaking career. (The Atlanta Voice)

๐Ÿ“– Emma can't stress enough how worthwhile it was to read Patrick Phillips' "Blood at the Root." Sobering, horrifying, brilliantly done. Thanks to Tom for the suggestion.

๐Ÿง Kristal wants to know if anyone has tips on how to make large batches of distilled water.

โ›ท Thomas wants to know where in Atlanta you want to go sledding, tubing and maybe even skiing.