At the time, Abrams called the Republican’s proposal a “trick” and said he could not be trusted to carry it out. Kemp signed a record $30.2 billion earlier this year, which included the final installment of the promised pay rise.
In a scathing response, Kemp’s campaign predicted that Abrams understated the price of his proposal and claimed it would have to levy new taxes to pay for it.
“Following the example of her friends in the Biden administration, Stacey Abrams’ latest Hail Mary proposal for more than $2 billion in new public spending a year joins an ever-growing pile of pie-in-the-sky plans. that would make inflation worse and demand higher taxes for Georgian families to pay for it all,” Kemp spokesman Tate Mitchell said.
Abrams rolled out his proposal in tandem with the endorsement of the Georgia Association of Educators, an influential advocacy group that represents about 23,000 teachers. Association president Lisa Morgan attacked a Republican-backed school policy overhaul that Kemp engineered.
“Adjusted for inflation, our educators earn less today than they did in 1999,” Morgan said outside the group’s headquarters, adding, “It’s not just about salaries. It’s about treating educators like the professionals they are.
The Democrats’ campaign hopes its demand for a pay rise for about 118,000 teachers will give its supporters a new rallying cry in a difficult medium-term climate for Democrats, as voters worried about high inflation and energy prices focus on wallet issues.
Over the past week, she has pressed Kemp to extend the fuel tax break through 2023 and pushed for the White House to forgive student loan debt. And she critical the state’s management of federal funds to help struggling families avoid evictions.
The base teacher salary in Georgia is around $39,000. A National Education Association study released in April ranked the state’s starting salary for teachers 35th in the nation. Under Abrams’ plan, Georgia would be pushed into the top 10.
The average Georgian teacher salary is higher as salary scales are based on experience, certification level and geography as most local governments offer supplements. Last year, the average US public school teacher salary was $65,293. Georgia public school teachers were average, with an average salary of $60,553.
Surrounded by teachers and students dressed in brightly colored shirts, Abrams said the lack of political will to significantly raise teachers’ salaries sooner had turned Kemp’s salary hike into a stopgap measure.
“It’s important to remember that we’re not starting from the Cadillac. We start from the tricycle. Because under the Republicans they took money from our teachers, they lowered their salaries year after year in terms of real dollars,” Abrams said.
She added, “We had to give them the $5,000 to get them back in the game. It’s about getting them going.”
Count Lisa Hall-Favor among educators who feel like they’re still trying to catch up. Hall-Favor, a specialist teacher in Richmond County, is in her 27th year of teaching and is “far from where I need to be.”
“It would be a game changer. I’m trying to help my son get to college without a student loan, and I’m a single parent,” Hall-Favor said of the proposed raise. “That would help a lot. Because without teachers where would you be? Nowhere!”
The proposed new salary hike would put additional pressure on Georgia’s budget outcome.
During strong economic times, the state typically collects about $1 billion in new revenue each year. But rising school enrollment and Medicaid costs make up a large portion of that spending, leaving less room to pay for other priorities.
To pass his teacher salary hike, Kemp split it into two different installments. He got a $3,000 raise in 2019 shortly after narrowly beating Abrams.
A GOP clash over whether to cut taxes rather than raise teachers’ salaries, and then the economic fallout from the pandemic, delayed passage of the remaining $2,000 until this year.
In total, state finance officials estimate the $5,000 pay rise cost about $1 billion.
The Democrat’s plan is based on projections that show state tax revenue will grow about 3.5% a year, or at least $1.1 billion a year, spokeswoman Jaylen Black said. .
According to the campaign’s calculations, that leaves enough room to fund the $412 million annual wage increase as well as the estimated $264 million price tag for Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. , another cornerstone of Abrams’ gubernatorial bid.
Election-year promises to raise teachers’ salaries are not unusual in Georgian politics.
When Governor Zell Miller ran for another term in 1994, one of the pillars of his platform included 6% salary increases for each year of his second term. Thanks in part to a strong economy during his second term, Miller delivered on that promise.
Editor Maureen Downey contributed to this article.