Gov. Kemp said during his State of the State Address at the Georgia capitol that expansion of his 2020 tax credits for personal protective equipment manufacturers was a "natural next step." He said one of the lessons he'd learned from COVID-19 was "we cannot waste time in bidding wars with other states or foreign adversaries."
"No one nation should hold a monopoly on life-saving medical supplies or equipment, and we should bring these critical industries and the jobs that come with them back to America and here to Georgia," Kemp said.
Details of the promised tax credits were not immediately available Thursday but Kemp said they would not come at the cost of other state priorities. He boasted about upcoming extra funding for education and rural businesses plus the continuation of coronavirus-related support for companies, like liability protections for businesses and health care providers against civil suits.
At the end of June, the governor signed legislation giving tax credits to any business making PPE such as hand sanitizer and face masks, including those that hadn't done so before the coronavirus pandemic began. House Bill 846 provided such companies with an additional $1,250 tax credit per job.
Kemp said Thursday that Georgia is already home to "some of health care's strongest pillars" including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, several major health care systems and "premier" medical research institutions like the Augusta and Emory universities.
"As we look to the future, on the other side of COVID-19, we should focus our efforts on planting more seeds in that good soil," Kemp said. This can be accomplished "by spurring job creation from those industries that are critical to the health care industry and building on Georgia's momentum to become a leader in all sectors of the health care industry."
The governor said while politicians in California and New York "spent their 2020 throwing stones in glass houses," Georgia was well prepared and positioned to emerge from the global economic crisis stronger and more prosperous than before.
"I'm proud to report that unlike them, the Peach State will not be facing budget cuts this year," Kemp said. "The budgets my administration will propose in the coming days include no new cuts to state agencies and departments, no furloughs, no widespread layoffs to state employees. And I might add, no new taxes to pay for it all."
The governor defended his controversial decision to reopen Georgia businesses in the early months of the pandemic, despite growing infections. He said it helped businesses stay alive despite being just days from closure.
"That decision allowed Georgia's small business community to live to fight another day," he said. "And some of our largest companies like Kia and Bridgestone to have record success."
--Editing by Bruce Goldman.
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