AP NEWS

Kemp signs amended Georgia budget, $100 million for virus

March 17, 2020 GMT
Gov. Brian Kemp speaks as other officials standing behind during a press conference to provide an update on the state's efforts regarding COVID-19, after reporting the first death in Georgia related to coronavirus, at the Georgia State Capitol on Thursday, March 12, 2020. (Hyosub Shin/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)
Gov. Brian Kemp speaks as other officials standing behind during a press conference to provide an update on the state's efforts regarding COVID-19, after reporting the first death in Georgia related to coronavirus, at the Georgia State Capitol on Thursday, March 12, 2020. (Hyosub Shin/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp on Tuesday signed into law a midyear amended budget that includes $100 million in emergency funding to combat the new coronavirus.

The emergency money, which Kemp asked state lawmakers to approve last week, was pulled from the state’s $2.8 billion reserves and goes to the governor’s emergency fund.

Despite that new money, the spending plan cuts $159 million from other state spending for the fiscal year ending June 30. Cuts were ordered by the Republican governor after a slowdown in state revenue collections that followed a reduction to the state’s top income tax rate.

Compared to Kemp’s initial proposal, state lawmakers shifted money around to restore cuts from county health departments and increase funding for state troopers, public defenders and food inspectors. More than $30 million was shifted to prevent cuts to mental health and behavioral health programs, and lawmakers insisted on preserving money for local public libraries to buy books and other materials.

“Over several months, I have worked closely with lawmakers to develop an amended fiscal year 2020 budget that reflects our priorities, reduces red tape in government, prioritizes public safety, and puts Georgia families first,” Kemp said in a statement.