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Sen. Ben Watson: State looks to spur growth in area
Ben Watson
Sen. Ben Watson

Sen. Ben Watson

Guest columnist

The Georgia General Assembly spent much of its time this week in committees to hear testimony on legislation that has been proposed for the 2023 session. One of the pieces of legislation we are reviewing is the process of amending our Fiscal Year 2023 budget. It is a chance for the General Assembly to review last year’s budget and determine what areas may need more funding or areas where funds should be redirected and haven’t been needed.

On the Amended FY 2023 Budget Proposal (the so-called “Little Budget”), approximately $2.3 billion has been allocated, resulting in a total FY 2023 state budget of $32.5 billion. A majority of those funds have been given to support education, health, economic development, as well as to return taxpayer money back to taxpayers.

We are anticipating returning $1.1 billion in the allocation of grants to counties for homeowner tax relief. We also will attach a directive on the money that the counties cannot keep it for themselves and must return it to the homeowners. In that same vein, we are also giving $1 billion toward income tax refunds. In addition, we allocated $1.1 billion to replace the funds not collected by the suspension of the motor fuel tax so that the state can continue to properly maintain our roads and infrastructure.

On the economic front, especially for the Coastal Empire, we have allocated almost $167 million for Regional Economic Business Assistance programs to help spur business to locate to Georgia. We have recently seen the pay-off for leading the state as the best state to do business, and that has helped attract two major automobile manufacturing plants including the Hyundai plant being built in Bryan County. That facility is expected to house over 8,000 employees. To prepare that work force for the jobs here in Bryan County and the Rivian plant in North Georgia, we allocated $129 million to build two QuickStart job training centers.

Governor Brian Kemp also announced that Seoyon E-HWA, a global auto parts supplier that manufactures both interior and exterior components, will create 740 new direct and indirect jobs and invest almost $76 million in a new manufacturing facility in Chatham County.

I will continue to provide information on the budgets later in these legislative updates as we go through the two-budget processes.

I am happy to introduce Senate Bill 69, legislation that would call for the creation and installment of a statue on Capitol grounds honoring one of Savannah’s favorite sons, the Honorable Clarence Thomas, a longtime Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

The monument shall be designed, procured, and placed by the Capitol Art Standards Commission, subject to final approval by a monument committee composed of several members of the General Assembly. Justice Thomas grew up in the Pin Point area of Chatham County.

You can reach Sen. Watson at (404) 656-7880 or by email at

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