ATLANTA, Ga. (CW69 News at 10) -- Governor Brian Kemp's 2021 State of the State Address at the Georgia House of Representatives came after a tumultuous year, as he reflected on 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic.
"One year ago, I had no idea what we would experience in 2020," Kemp said. "When I stood at this rostrum on January 16th, 2020, I didn't know that a deadly, global pandemic was on the horizon. We didn't know that businesses would be shuttered, unemployment would skyrocket, and opportunity would slow under the weight of COVID-19."
Kemp also discussed the recent distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine. "Thanks to the efforts of Operation Warp Speed, we have a miracle of modern science that is quickly being administered," he said.
He also recounted the protests and civil unrest. "In addition to the pandemic, our country faced another crisis throughout the summer and early fall of 2020. In the tragic deaths of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery, the entire nation witnessed injustice with our own eyes. I was proud to support the peaceful protests that drew the world's attention to these terrible acts, and those voices demanded change to protect the lives of every Georgian regardless of race, creed, or political preference."
Kemp thanked a number of agencies he says rose to the challenge, including law enforcement and Georgia Department of Public Health Commission Dr. Kathleen Toomey, who has helped lead the charge of fighting COVID-19. He also recapped economic development efforts over the last year.
"Our Department of Economic Development has announced the creation of more than 16,000 new jobs and more than $6 billion in new investment, with more than half of those jobs going to communities outside the metro area.
His proposed budget includes $647 million to restore school funding, $76 million to implement Georgia Pathways and Access healthcare and $329 million for Medicaid and PeachCare. Kemp says the proposed budget does not include any new state job cuts or new taxes.
As the state battles a growing number of COVID-19 cases, Democrats say a more bipartisan effort would help Georgia meet the challenges quicker.
"We have a lot of work to do," said State Representative and House Minority Leader James Beverly. "We can't wait for the governor to set the standard whereby we get people out of this pandemic," he said, also calling for a mask mandate and a new strategic plan. "One party doesn't have all the answers, but certainly, when you leave out a whole section of Georgia, because you're not asking us what we think, that's a problem."
"It's time to put differences aside. Put 2020 in the rear view," said Kemp.
Both sides say they're ready for a new chapter in 2021 .
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