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As lawmakers head back to work on Monday, a $6.6 billion surplus is on their minds

Georgia’s giant hill of money looms over state lawmakers as the 2023 session begins next Monday.

State government ended the 2022 budget year in June with $6.6 billion in surplus cash, even after it filled its savings account to the legal limit. Gov. Brian Kemp has announced plans to spend more than $3 billion of the amount through a combination of one-time tax givebacks, with fellow Republican legislative leaders signaling support. But even that bonanza would leave about $3 billion that could be spent, saved or given away. And barring a notable economic disaster, the state is likely to run a surplus again in the current budget year.

Lawmakers are likely to pause on broad pay increases after giving election-year $5,000 raises to university and state agency employees and $2,000 raises to public school teachers. Those pay raises drove a big increase in spending, with this year’s budget rising 11% over 2022′s original plan.

Kemp wants to dig into the surplus for three big items. First is replacing revenue Georgia hasn’t collected on gasoline and diesel taxes since March. The governor also wants to give another round of state income tax rebates like the $1.1 billion in payments issued last year. Finally, Kemp wants to revive a property tax rebate abolished in 2009. The governor wants to spend $1 billion to save about $500 a year for homeowners.

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