ATLANTA — Legislation has been introduced in the Georgia General Assembly to deliver on Gov. Brian Kemp's proposal for tax refund checks of $250-500 to taxpayers.
A release from the Georgia House said Rep. Josh Bonner, a Fayetteville Republican and one of the governor's floor leaders, introduced H.B. 1302 which would provide for the one-time refunds.
The money would come from a $1.6 billion budget surplus the state has following budget cuts at the onset of the pandemic. It would provide a $250 check to single filers, $375 check to head-of-household filers and a $500 check to joint filers.
The checks would go to residents who filed income tax returns in 2020 and 2021.
Fearing revenue would tank amid the COVID pandemic, Georgia lawmakers cut 10% from the spending plan while developing the budget for the 2021 fiscal year in the summer of 2020. Once it became clear revenue wouldn't plummet, the state government then restored hundreds of millions of dollars back into its education budget. However, other agencies across the Peach State were still under a 10% cut, leaving a surplus of funds from the previous fiscal year.
According to the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, the 2022 fiscal year budget still leaves several state agencies underfunded by millions compared to pre-pandemic numbers. There are cuts to spending in Pre-K through 12th grade, higher education, health services and programs, and the Departments of Human Services and Labor among others.
Proponents of the plan argue that any surplus should be returned directly to taxpayers.
“When government takes in more than it needs, surplus funds should be sent back to the hardworking Georgians who move our state forward,” Rep. Bonner said in a statement. “The taxpayers should have full jurisdiction over where their excess money goes. After all, people, not the government, know how to use their hard-earned income best.”
It's not fully clear how much support the refund plan will have in the General Assembly, though the Republican-dominated legislature has supported many budget proposals by Gov. Kemp in the past.