The Governor’s office confirmed on Monday that he will devote up to an additional $1.2 billion dollars of the state’s budget surplus to giving some extra help to struggling Georgians through a round of social payouts
Gov. Brian Kemp said Monday he will allocate up to another $1.2 billion of the state’s budget surplus and federal pandemic relief funds toward a new round of payouts to Georgians who receive various types of public assistance. The refunds will be a flat payout of $350 to all Georgians who benefit from Medicaid, subsidized child health insurance, food stamps, or cash welfare assistance.
This move comes in addition to Kemp’s pledges last week to dedicate another $2 billion of the state's budget surplus, split between property tax rebates and a second round of income tax rebates if he is re-elected in November over Democratic challenger Stacey Abrams.
Payments of this new social payout will start in September, said Katie Byrd, a spokesperson for the governor’s office.
The decision will put money in the hands of more than 3 million lower-wage earning Georgians just months before statewide voters will hit the ballots to determine if he will be re-elected to a second term as Georgia’s governor.
The designated recipients of this new payout are the very voters toward whom Abrams has been tailoring the majority of her promises. She also claims to support another round of income tax rebates, just like those Kemp has already paid out and is promising to pay out again.
Kemp, though, appears to be betting that handing out cash now will outweigh the promise of future improvements, though he is planning to commit to those future payments as well. Under Georgia state law, he alone controls how these billions of federal COVID-19 relief dollars are spent.
While several media agencies, and especially Stacey Abrams, are attempting to claim this is hypocritical due to the governor’s almost constant criticisms of President Biden and congressional Democrats oft rabid spending, they fail to take into consideration that the COVID-19 relief dollars Kemp is utilizing here aren't funds he gleaned from raising taxes on all Americans, including the poorest, and especially not the struggling residents of the Peach State.
“This assistance will help some of Georgia’s most vulnerable citizens cope with the continued negative economic impact of the COVID-19 public health emergency and 40-year-high inflation caused by disastrous policies that were implemented by the Biden administration,” Kemp’s office said in a statement.
Kemp has cited the same reason for repeated suspensions of the state's gas and diesel taxes since March, a move that has cost the state more than $800 million in additional tax revenue.
Abrams has repeatedly accused Kemp of hypocrisy for taking credit for federally financed benefits while bad-mouthing Biden. Abrams spokesperson Alex Floyd in a Monday statement called the move another of Kemp’s “election-year vote-buying schemes.” A position that is not very popular with Georgia voters who are about to benefit from the extra help.
The state Department of Human Services said on its website that beneficiaries will get the payment automatically, but urged people to update their contact information on a state website that manages health and welfare benefits. The state said that people who get food stamps and cash welfare benefits will not get the money on the same debit card they get those benefits, but didn’t immediately respond to questions about how the money will get sent out.
Only people enrolled as of July 31 will get the money. Anyone who enrolled later or who left programs earlier is not eligible. If someone benefits from multiple programs, they will only get one $350 payment, but separate payments will be given to everyone in a household that benefits, meaning a single parent with two children would get $1,050, for example.
Georgia had 2.3 million people benefiting from Medicaid or the Child Health Insurance Program in April, according to the most recent federal figures, while it had 1.59 million people benefitting from food stamps in May.
For more information on the new payouts, or for help in determining your eligibility, you can visit the page on the website for the Georgia Department of Human Services that is dedicated to the payout parameters.
Compiled by Investigative Reporter Crystal Dillon – Because the Truth Matters!