Newly minted Governor Brian Kemp gave his first State of the State address on Thursday to the joint chambers of the Georgia legislature.
The governor drew from a biblical parable that he said always inspired him as a builder — and that he now draws on for inspiration while aiming to continue building Georgia’s success.
“The rain came down, the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat on that house; and it didn’t fall, for it was founded on the rock,” he recited.
Kemp said he inherited a solid foundation from Governor Nathan Deal, with the state’s robust economy in certain metro areas.
But he said that isn’t enough.
“While places like Atlanta, Augusta, Savannah, and Columbus continue to grow and thrive, it still feels like the Great Recession in parts of rural Georgia,” he said. “Businesses are closing. Opportunities are drying up.”
To combat that, Kemp said he’ll focus on rural development, particularly rural broadband.
In addition, he touched on poor access to healthcare in the state with over 60 counties with no pediatrician or OBGYN and 9 with no doctor at all.
“The status quo is unacceptable,” Kemp stated.
He said he’s including a $1 million grant for the Department of Community Health to look at tackling those challenges.
The governor also touched on parts of the state decimated by Hurricane Michael, thanking the president for federal relief. Those dollars, however, won’t actually make it to Georgia until a federal budget is passed and the shutdown ends.
On education, Kemp said he has requested a $5,000 raise for all teachers, with $3,000 as a “downpayment” this year.
Kemp is also efforting to provide public schools with $30,000 for school security, though the details on the funding are unclear at this time. He also discussed a new program to address mental health issues in high school in relation to school safety.
As far as crime is concerned in the state, Kemp said he wanted to put $500,000 in initial funding to go towards a new anti-gang task force within the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
The governor also gave mention to fallen police officer Anthony Christie of Savannah and Ludowici Police Chief Frank McClelland.