Here’s a legislative update from NFIB State Director Nathan Humphrey:
While there will be many issues lawmakers may take up during this year’s regular session, the only issue they’re constitutionally required to address is the state budget.
Governor Kemp gave his state of the state address on Jan. 14 and presented his budget proposals and recommendations to the Senate and House budget committees.
One issue that small business owners in Georgia across the political spectrum can agree on is that the Georgia economy is open and small businesses are able to stay open.
While small businesses in many states have found themselves shut down completely and faced with the prospect of laying off employees and losing their businesses forever, Georgia has taken strong steps to allow small business owners to have a fighting chance to survive this pandemic and economic crisis.
Georgia’s unemployment rate is around 5.7%, well below the national average after hitting an all-time high of 12.6% in April during the height of the pandemic.
While other states are faced with drastic revenue shortfalls, Georgia revenue collections are on track to run as much as $1.5 billion above predictions. State tax collections have been strong during the first half of fiscal 2021. Through December, collections are up $722 million, or 6.1%.
Governor Kemp announced that his new budget proposals will not include any drastic budget cuts or tax increases this year. Also, the state will not have to tap into its revenue shortfall reserve “rainy day” fund to cover the cost of state government.
Lastly, Governor Kemp allocated $1.5 billion in Coronavirus Relief Funds from the CARES Act to the state’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund in an effort to curb future unemployment tax hikes. This is a very big deal for Georgia small businesses. According to the governor’s office, the allocation will save the average Georgia employer approximately $350 per year for each employed worker.
While many Georgia small business owners are struggling, Georgia remains one of the best states in the country in which to own and operate a small business. We’ll work hard during this year’s session to keep it that way.