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Kemp wants to offer $250 rebates for everyone filing state income taxes
11302017 ECONOMY

ATLANTA  — Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp wants to use $1.6 billion of the state's $2.2 billion in spare cash to give rebates in April on state income taxes.

The Republican told the Georgia Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday that he wants to give a $250 rebate to every single person filing state income taxes and $500 to every household filing jointly.

The money would come from part of the huge budget surplus that the state ran last year. Even after filling Georgia's rainy day fund to its legal limit, the state had $2.2 billion in cash left over.

The rebates are the centerpiece of Kemp's emerging strategy to put cash in the hands of as many voters as possible, as quickly as possible, as he tries to get reelected this year. Kemp faces a tough GOP primary ahead of a challenging general election campaign against likely Democratic nominee Stacey Abrams. 

"We're simply giving the money back to the people that pay the taxes," Kemp told reporters after his speech. "We're trying to help people that are in the workforce combat rising inflation and other things."

Kemp also proposed $5,000 pay raises for employees of state agencies, a move endorsed Wednesday by Republican House Speaker David Ralston of Blue Ridge. And he wants to push his proposed $2,000 pay raise for teachers into the current budget year by paying a onetime $2,000 bonus now, according to advance remarks from Thursday's state of the state, obtained Monday by The Associated Press. 

Kemp also said that the University System of Georgia will cut special fees added during the recession if lawmakers agree to restore funding cut two years ago from university budgets.

Both the tax rebate and the teacher bonus could reach voters before the May 24 Republican primary, when Kemp faces former U.S. Sen. David Perdue, former state lawmaker Vernon Jones and others for his party's nomination.