Atlanta, GA - Today, at the Georgia Chamber of Commerce’s annual Eggs and Issues legislative preview event, Governor Brian P. Kemp delivered an address celebrating years of record-breaking economic development and laying out priorities for the 2024 legislative session to continue that success.
The Governor announced his administration’s priorities to continue addressing workforce development challenges, including in the area of healthcare; reinforce Georgia's status as a right-to-work state; address the need for more information regarding civil litigation; invest in infrastructure across the state, including workforce housing; and establish new higher education assets.
Below are the Governor’s prepared remarks:
Good morning, thank you for that introduction. I’m proud to be here today with the nation’s best First Lady – Marty Kemp! And we’re glad to be here with Speaker Burns, Lt. Governor Jones, other members of the General Assembly, Mayor Dickens, and some of the great local partners who have helped us keep Georgia the best state for opportunity. I also want to thank Chris Clark and the Georgia Chamber team for making this yearly event possible.
It’s thanks to all of these partners, and many others throughout Georgia, that we remain the No. 1 state for business. We’ve seen over 171,000 new jobs come to our communities. We’ve brought in roughly 74.5 billion dollars in investment to the state, with the majority going to rural parts of Georgia. We have more people working than ever before in our state. And we have jobs open for anyone looking for work or a new career.
That’s a track record everyone in this room should be proud of.
But that’s where we are today. What everyone in this room should consider is where we need to be in five years, in ten years, in generations to come and how do we get there.
My vision for that future Georgia is one where all people have opportunity and can succeed, where job creators and innovators choose us over and over again because we’re the best place to build the businesses of tomorrow, and where every community in our state benefits from those opportunities.
If we want to maintain the incredible position we’re in today for another generation, we need to make smart moves right now to secure that future.
For too long, business owners and individuals alike have struggled under the weight of sky-high insurance costs.
The cost to do business in our state should not be so high it stalls job creation and impedes growth because of frivolous lawsuits that drive up insurance premiums.
In Georgia, we have some of the highest premiums in the country. We can and should do something about that.
I look forward to working with the leadership and members of both chambers of the General Assembly on meaningful reforms that will stabilize costs for everyday Georgians, incentivize job creators to bring more opportunity to all parts of our state, and ensure Georgia is the best place to start, grow, and operate a business.
That’s why over the past several months, we’ve brought together representatives from a full range of industries to learn more about those challenges.
Following those extensive conversations, my team and I have determined this issue deserves consideration beyond one session. We will begin by taking the first step this year.
Like in every major undertaking our state has tackled in the past, we will work on a Georgia-specific solution; one designed to make meaningful reforms in this area over the next several years.
I look forward to introducing legislation this year that will reflect my priorities to stabilize the market for insurers, stabilize premiums for Georgia’s families, and level the playing field in our courtrooms so we can continue to create even more quality, good-paying jobs.
We’re also working hard to ensure the war on opportunity declared by the Biden administration in Washington does not come to Georgia. Last year we saw just how damaging anti-business actions are for workers and the economy.
The largest strikes of 2023 that lasted just six weeks cost the American economy over 9 billion dollars and more than 75,000 jobs.
The people orchestrating these actions are partisan activists who want nothing more than to see the free market brought to a screeching halt, businesses both small and large go under, and economic growth and opportunity to be dictated by the heavy hand of government – not job creators.
This anti-job playbook has been blessed by the Biden administration, and empowered by a federal government that views businesses as an enemy – not a vital partner in reigniting the American Dream.
I want to be clear: in Georgia, we’re proud to be a right-to-work state – and we’re going to continue to stand for free enterprise, job creation, economic growth, and pro-business policies as long as I’m governor.
Because what this administration fails to recognize is that the American Dream will always provide our people greater prosperity than government ever could.
My commitment to you is that we will never cower to activists who seek to attack job creators and undermine the countless opportunities they create in communities across Georgia – big and small.
We will remain a right to work state, and this legislative session, we will take further steps to protect workers and require transparency from unions.
My administration will be introducing legislation requiring businesses that utilize state incentives to respect their employees’ right and access to a secret ballot, if some seek to unionize.
Georgians have a right to opportunity, and we will defend that right against the overreaches of big government and big labor.
With these new measures added to all those we’ve already achieved, I have no doubt that Georgia will continue to be the epicenter for historic growth and projects that will impact our state for generations to come.
With the help of many in this room, we’re making strategic investments in our communities and workers to keep it that way.
That includes making sure community-level infrastructure is able to meet the increased demand that comes with unprecedented economic development.
That is why in the budget proposals my office will unveil tomorrow, we will invest 250 million dollars of new state funds into the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority for local water and sewer projects across the state.
These new investments will raise the fund's capacity for new projects to 325 million dollars, and the overall portfolio to nearly 750 million dollars.
It will also give Georgia a competitive edge in attracting even more job creation to our state, especially in our rural communities.
As many of you know, when it comes to attracting new companies to our state… or incentivizing existing businesses to expand, the more the state can do from a water and sewer perspective, the more likely we are to land that project.
That means more jobs, more growth, and more opportunity in zip codes that need it the most.
If you’ve been around metro Atlanta, or down I-16 toward Savannah, or up I-85 to Commerce, or braved GA-400 northbound in rush hour, you know that Georgia is attracting more people, more businesses, and more investment.
While the incredible win streak we’ve been on benefits Georgians from all walks of life, in nearly every region of this state, it’s also true that there are costs to that success when it comes to the movement of people and goods across our state.
To continue being the best state to live, work, and raise a family, our transportation infrastructure must not only keep up with demand, it must look five, ten, twenty years ahead – both for hardworking Georgia families, and businesses here in the Peach state and around the world that rely on us to get their products to market.
That’s why my budget recommendations will also include an additional 1.5 billion dollars in state funds we will allocate to the Georgia Department of Transportation for projects that directly help move commuters and freight.
With the funds provided in our amended 2024 budget, these projects will accelerate GDOT’s existing project pipeline, enabling the agency to work further down its list of priority projects that includes those related to Georgia’s two largest economic development projects in state history.
This funding will also enable us to establish a new program focused on Freight Infrastructure projects that improve efficiency, safety, and reliability for the transportation of goods.
Lastly, 200 million dollars from this pot of money will go to the Local Maintenance and Improvement Grant, essentially doubling the amount available to local governments for Fiscal Year 2024 to 418 million dollars. This money will be well spent on local road engineering, construction, paving, and maintenance.
And just as Georgia’s workers deserve to drive on safe and reliable roads, they also deserve to be able to live in the same community where they work.
That’s why we created the Workforce Housing Fund last year with an initial investment of 35.7 million dollars.
That money has already been put to good use, allowing local development and housing authorities across our state to prepare land for housing projects in areas with upcoming economic development projects.
To date, over 17 million dollars of this has been awarded to 9 projects. The approved projects so far have been grants for water, sewer, and road construction around single and multi-family housing developments.
This year, I’m proposing an additional 50 million dollars in the Amended 2024 budget and 6 million dollars in base funding for the Fiscal Year 2025 budget that will go to this Fund, ensuring these types of strategic investments continue.
I’m confident that by working together with the members of the General Assembly, we can continue to build on the incredible success we’ve had bringing jobs, growth, and opportunity to all parts of our state.
Just as we need to invest in the physical infrastructure of our state to keep up with growth, we also need to invest in the human capital to meet the demands of a growing population.
No sector of our economy needs qualified workers more than healthcare. Since 2019, we’ve invested in more residency slots, incentivized healthcare professionals to stay in Georgia and provide quality care, ensured new mothers in our state are covered, and taken innovative steps to expand access to care, stabilize costs, and increase the number of insurers statewide.
With that in mind, my budget proposal includes 178 million dollars for the design and construction for a dental school at Georgia Southern University – the first school of its kind in our state since the moon landing in 1969!
I am also proposing 50 million dollars for a medical school at our flagship institution – the University of Georgia. This will go a long way to helping us address the medical workforce gap Georgia has struggled with for years.
With these new assets on the way, we will further address the growing need for healthcare professionals in our state, and ensure that we are doing everything we can to address challenges across the healthcare spectrum – from workforce, to cost, to access, to quality.
All of these investments and measures I’ve shared with you today are strategic and designed to keep Georgia what we have made it over these past five years, together – the best state to live, work, and raise a family.
Tomorrow, I will share even more announcements on how we will build on these successes.
Thank you for your partnership, God bless, and may God continue to bless the great State of Georgia!