Georgia gov. urges unity in first major speech

Georgia gov. urges unity in first major speech

In his first major speech since the election, Georgia Governor-Elect Brian Kemp told more than 100 legislators that it was time to “put politics behind us,” and asked them to “join me in the journey forward.”

“It’s time to shed the labels and work together as Georgians,” said Kemp, speaking at the biennial training session in Athens Tuesday. “It’s time to stand up for our communities, our families and our Georgia values. It’s time to protect the vulnerable. It’s time to do the right thing — even when no one is looking.”

“On January 14, I will raise my right hand and officially become your Governor,” he continued. We will begin — in earnest — the journey forward. I humbly ask you to join me. Join me as we build on our successes. Join me as we tackle the challenges ahead. The next four years are not about me. This is about the men, women and children we are honored to serve. This is about our families. This is about our future. I am confident that our state’s best days are ahead if we stand together. We will create a lasting legacy of success when we put hardworking Georgians first.”

Continuing his call for unity, Kemp acknowledged that the 2018 election for Governor was the most expensive in state history, as well as the most divisive.

“I understand that we weren’t all on the same team in the primary, the run-off or even the General Election,” Kemp said. “But the campaign is over, and it’s time to put politics behind us.”

Kemp stressed that his plan for Georgia would begin with the economy and continued job growth.

“As a small business guy, I know the impact that taxes, regulations and government red tape can have on investment, expansion and hiring,” he said. “That’s why on Day One we will create the Georgians’ First Committee — led by business leaders not government bureaucrats — to identify the things that frustrate our small business owners.”

Kemp spoke on the state’s budget — stating that it is a direct reflection “of our priorities as a state. How we spend $27 billion showcases what we value.”

He emphasized the need to fund education, healthcare, infrastructure and public safety, adding that we must look for ways to streamline, save and cap spending.

“We need to ensure that our tax code favors your family — not the special interests,” he said. “I look forward to cutting taxes again as your next Governor.”

Kemp also spoke on strengthening rural Georgia, increasing teacher pay and upping the rural hospital tax credit.

“I have talked about economic prosperity, record job growth, unemployment rates, and international businesses with Georgia on their mind. But the rising tide in Atlanta, Augusta and Savannah has not lifted our rural counties. Some continue to struggle. In some areas it still feels like the Great Recession.”

“As Governor, I will work to ensure that someone’s potential is not determined by their zip code or county.”

Kemp said he looked forward to working with the House Rural Development Council and their colleagues on the Senate to expand high speed internet, quality healthcare, good education and growing high paying jobs.

“Through partnership, we can ensure that every part of our state has access to opportunity.”

He also spoke on tackling the state’s rural doctor shortage, championing early learning initiatives, and using innovation “to lower healthcare costs, insurance premiums and growing access to affordable, quality healthcare.”

Safety of Georgia families, students and communities will also be a priority, Kemp said, committing to work to dismantle street gangs, drug cartels and “protect our kids at school.”