Gov. Brian Kemp, at podium, unveiled $1,000 bonuses for state employees with flanked by Georgia House Speaker David Ralston, left, Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, right, and top-ranking General Assembly lawmakers.

ATLANTA – Georgia officials unveiled plans Wednesday to give $1,000 bonuses to a large chunk of state government employees amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The one-time supplemental payments would go to around 57,000 state workers making salaries less than $80,000 annually, adding to $1,000 checks Gov. Brian Kemp has already pledged this year for K-12 public school teachers and staff.

Kemp joined Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, Georgia House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, and top General Assembly budget writers Wednesday to announce the one-time checks.

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“We have worked long beside one another during this pandemic,” Kemp said at the state Capitol in Atlanta Wednesday. “And we will continue to do that.”

State officials gave few details Wednesday on how the bonus would be paid other than it would entail $59.6 million to be included in the state’s mid-year budget.

Georgia Senate lawmakers passed the $26.5 billion amended 2021 budget Tuesday, sending it back to the state House for final revisions where the $1,000 checks will be added, according to Ralston.

“We wanted to extend that $1,000 bonus beyond our teachers to many of our front-line state employees who have also served our citizens through the worst days of this pandemic,” Ralston said.

The bonus would benefit state public-health workers, state troopers, labor department employees, food inspectors, child-support caseworkers and staff from other state agencies.

It would not, however, go to employees under the state Board of Regents — which oversees Georgia’s public college and university system — as well as “some state authorities,” Ralston said. He did not elaborate on those authorities.

House and Senate lawmakers still have to finalize the mid-year budget before moving on to the fiscal 2022 budget that funds state agencies and public schools throughout the fiscal year that starts July 1.

Kemp has directed budget-writers to avoid any spending cuts similar to the $2.2 billion reductions imposed last year as the pandemic pummeled Georgia’s economy. State revenues have since rebounded for officials to craft upcoming agency budgets with a rosier outlook.

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