Abrams seeks investment in Georgia to build an inclusive economy

DECATUR, Georgia — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams said in a speech Tuesday that it was time for Georgia to use its surplus budget to invest in its residents, prompting Gov. Brian Kemp and other Republicans to push for low tax rates. and accused it of hurting the state by prioritizing low spending. .

She also announced that she would support state constitutional amendments to legalize casinos and sports betting, funded financial aid as needed, guaranteed free college of technology, and students who earned a C average or better. said that he would like to revive the HOPE Merit Scholarship in Georgia. in high school.

Abrams also woven attacks against restrictive abortion laws and lax gun laws, which he also argued threatened Georgia’s prosperity.

“We can do what’s right for Georgia by investing in the economy, saving healthcare, building infrastructure, and protecting small businesses, workers and revenues,” Abrams said. can turn around and give back what has been taken from too many Georgians.”

Abrams, who trails in the polls, is pushing for a reset this year on what has emerged as the biggest vulnerability for Democrats across the country amid inflation and high gas prices. is focused on Kemp hopes the economy will be a particularly important issue for him in Georgia this year.

In a campaign speech in the Atlanta suburb of McDonough last month, Kemp said, “This team has put our state on the path to greater economic opportunity for everyone who calls Peach State home.” We’re bringing high-paying jobs to every corner of Georgia, signing the largest economic development deal in state history, passing the largest income tax cuts on record, and keeping government out of your way and out of your pocket. I did.”

Kemp is expected to announce his own plans on Thursday for part of Georgia’s surplus. A Kemp campaign official with knowledge of the governor’s plans spoke on condition of anonymity to preview the announcement.

In a nod to Abrams’ work as a voting rights advocate, Kemp said he shared responsibility for soaring inflation and stubborn gas prices by helping Joe Biden win the election. He calls it the “Biden Abrams agenda.”

Abrams and other Democrats want to move away from inflation and pivot to ways in which government can help voters. Many of her plans are the same as when she turned against Kemp in 2018, expanding the Medicaid health insurance program to all low-income adults and extending state aid to small businesses.

But in 2022, cash is everywhere in Georgia. The state closed its budget year in June, securing a surplus of about $5 billion, more than $2.3 billion from the previous year, and her legally protected $4.3 billion rainy day fund. .

Abrams concedes that austerity may have been necessary during the Great Recession. But now, she says, Kemp’s “poor imagination” is sapping the opportunity for too many.

In an interview with The Associated Press on Monday previewing the speech, Abrams said, “I liken it to a company that realizes the windfall.” You can invest and create more opportunities and returns, and I prefer to do the latter.”

Kemp warns that increased spending will exacerbate inflation, arguing that Abrams will eventually aim to raise taxes after spending the surplus.

“What she really believes is that there will be more government, more control over your day-to-day life, and more of your hard-earned paycheck.

Abrams has vowed never to raise taxes and says her spending plans are sustainable.

Many Democrats have endorsed gambling as a way to increase spending without raising taxes. Abrams on Tuesday cited a 2011 deal with Republicans to cut benefits for the lottery-funded HOPE scholarships to bolster programs whose costs had exceeded lottery earnings. , she proposes to reverse these cuts, also using some of the huge lottery reserves to revive free colleges of technology and lower-performing students cut under that pact. We are expanding benefits to

The proposed gambling expansion has failed in Congress every year, requiring the support of two-thirds of lawmakers before a proposed constitutional amendment can be submitted to voters for approval in a referendum.

“We can accelerate higher education and economic opportunity for all students in Georgia,” Abrams said.

Abrams seeks to outdo Kemp on several policies, arguing for another round of checks on taxpayers, such as Kemp’s billion-dollar state income tax refund. After repeatedly suspending state gas taxes for short periods, Abrams is asking Kemp to pledge to suspend it until the end of the year. And Abrams has pledged not to repeal state income tax cuts that could ultimately save him $2 billion in taxes.

Kemp said Abrams’ support for his proposal shows he is a credible voter.

“I’m running on my record. Do you know what Stacey Abrams’ record is? Tomorrow will be different than today. I can tell you that.”

Abrams said Georgia fell from 24th among states in per capita income in the early 2000s to 40th. Savvy observers debate the cause, but Abrams believes it was due to bringing too much profit to his rich man.

She said it envisions focusing on small businesses, helping minority-owned businesses catch up, and facilitating economic mobility in areas of the country where poor people are least likely to thrive. rice field.

“You might think that’s enough, but it’s not,” Abrams said. “We are entitled to more. Our taxes paid more, so now It’s time to get our money’s worth.”


Follow Jeff Amy at http://twitter.com/jeffamy.

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