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Sen. Ben Watson’s Weekly: Jan. 15, 2024
Ben Watson
Sen. Ben Watson

Ben Watson

Ga. State Senator District 1

Your Georgia Senate convened for the 2024 Session at 10:00 a.m. The body adopted three resolutions including a resolution that notified the House of Representatives that the Georgia Senate convened. We also passed a call for a joint session of the Senate and House on Thursday, January 11, 2024, for Governor Brian Kemp’s State of the State address. We will delve into that later in this writeup. Finally, the Senate and House notified the governor that the General Assembly convened.

As I mentioned, Governor Brian Kemp delivered his 2024 State of the State Address to a joint session of the General Assembly. The Governor started off with his commitment of his, as well as the General Assembly to continue to lower taxes for all Georgians. First, he continued with our commitment to legislation that decreases our state income tax to 5.39 percent starting this year. That cut represents savings of $3 billion for Georgia taxpayers over the next ten years. In addition, we are moving to legislation that, much like the past few years, of returning a tax rebate to taxpayers and lowering a homestead property reduction.

The Governor told of his meetings with educators and superintendents from all over this state and heard frequently that our schools needed additional resources to enhance their security. Since 2019, the Georgia General Assembly has provided more than $185 million to all of our schools to help ensure the safety and well-being of our students and teachers. The Governor is proposing a continued effort by making school security funding permanent. In his budget proposal, he has asked for $104 million that will go directly to school districts for school safety enhancements. And best of all, the individual school districts will determine how best to use this money, whether for personnel like school resource officers or for physical and technology improvements that make places of learning more secure. This investment is more significant because it will enable schools and administrators to plan accordingly, knowing that this money is headed their way for this specific purpose. We, in the Senate, agree more has to be done.

In addition to continued security for our state, the Governor has asked the General Assembly for pay increases of an additional $3,000 for State Patrol officers as well as our correctional officers and other state law enforcement agencies. He also wishes to keep our state government to stay efficient and stay ahead of Georgia’s continued growth, and to that end, we must be able to attract and retain employees who perform vitally important jobs.

His budget proposal provides for a pay increase for all state employees, including teachers, and will increase every state worker’s pay by 4 percent.

Members of the General Assembly’s Appropriations Committees will return to the Georgia State Capitol for the annual “budget week” which typically begins the day after the Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday. Throughout the week, we will hear directly from state agency leaders regarding their budgetary requests, as well as the state economist, who provided a comprehensive overview of Georgia’s economic forecast for this year.

As we progress through the session, I will keep you updated on the budget legislation. Thank you for your continued interest in the General Assembly session.

As your public servant, feel free to visit me at the Capitol or to reach out to me by phone or email. I am in 325-A Coverdell Legislative Office Building. My office phone number is (404) 656-7880, and my email is ben.watson@ I look forward to continuing to serve you.

Sen. Ben Watson is a member of the Georgia State Senate, representing District 1.

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