This is an opinion.
My top priority as governor during the COVID-19 pandemic has been to protect both the lives and livelihoods of all Georgians. Over the last year, our state has remained open for business, while also effectively combating this unprecedented health crisis.
Over the past year, Georgia was named the top state for business for the eighth year in a row, maintained our coveted AAA bond rating, and preserved our rainy-day fund.
With more than 16,000 jobs and nearly $6 billion in new investment announced coming to every region of the state in the first half of Fiscal Year 2021, we continue to break economic development records in our state. And, by allowing Georgia businesses to remain open, our unemployment rate continues to be below the national average.
State revenues remain strong. We continue to fund our priorities, and thanks to our measured reopening, we avoided deep cuts to state agencies or essential services and were not forced to make significant layoffs and furloughs — all with no new taxes to help pay for it all.
In unprecedented times, working alongside the General Assembly, we made tough decisions, protected lives and livelihoods, and kept Georgia moving forward.
I am deeply concerned that, unlike federal aid passed last year, the newest round of COVID-19 relief for states that recently passed the U.S House ties those funds primarily to a state’s unemployment rate.
The formula included in the previous CARES Act did not favor a resident from Georgia or any other state or base the amount of aid on the percentage of unemployed. Federal funds were distributed equally on a per capita basis. This approach enjoyed broad, bipartisan support and was signed into law by President Trump.
In terms of direct impact to hardworking Georgians, the current formula being considered in Congress would allocate over 50% more to a resident in New York than a resident in Georgia. The Peach State would be the worst-hit under this new plan, receiving nearly $1.3 billion less than if the previous formula were applied. This is unacceptable.
The people of Georgia should not be punished by a federal government hoping to tip the scales in favor of other lockdown states who chose to decimate their own economies. It is no coincidence that the home states of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D – Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D – N.Y.) are the biggest beneficiaries of this blue state bailout.
If President Trump and Republicans had attempted to favor red states or those who chose to safely reopen their economies in passing the CARES Act, Democrats and their mainstream media allies would have cried foul.
Now, instead of using the bipartisan blueprint for previous aid packages, congressional Democrats see a golden opportunity to prop up the failing pension plans and bloated budgets of their mismanaged states back home. This hyper-partisan process shows Washington D.C. at its worst.
The COVID-19 relief package, as currently written, is a slap in the face to hardworking Georgians, small businesses, and countless families who struggled to make ends meet throughout the pandemic. Congress should take action immediately by changing the bill to level the playing field for all states.
Failing to do so will prove that “unity” and “build back better” are bumper sticker slogans to be discarded at the earliest political opportunity. Georgians deserve better, and our country deserves better.
Brian Kemp is the 83rd governor of Georgia. This opinion was first published by Fox News.