Gov. Brian Kemp

ATLANTA – Georgia’s hefty budget surplus is about to pay off for state employees.

Gov. Brian Kemp will include a $5,000 raise for most state workers in the fiscal 2022 mid-year budget proposal he will release later this week. Putting the raise in the mid-year budget means it would take effect as soon as the General Assembly passes it and he signs it into law rather than at the beginning of fiscal 2023 in July.

More than 57,000 state employees earning less than $80,000 per year received one-time $1,000 raises last year. But pay increases for state workers have been rare since the Great Recession caused state tax revenues to plummet, forcing lawmakers to make severe spending cuts.

But the state’s coffers have recovered from the double impacts of the Great Recession and another economic downturn brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, with the help of federal COVID-19 aid money.

By the end of the last fiscal year last June, the state had built a budget surplus of $3.7 billion.

State agency heads have long complained they’re losing workers because state salaries are failing to keep up with pay offered by other governments and in the private sector.

“State government positions must remain competitive with other government entities to attract and retain a talented and capable workforce,” Kemp wrote in a letter Friday to state department heads outlining the planned pay raise.

Kemp also announced he will recommend making the $5,000 pay increase permanent starting with his fiscal 2023 budget.

The governor will outline highlights of his spending recommendations on Thursday during a joint session of the General Assembly.

This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.