Gov. Brian Kemp addressed lawmakers and Georgians Thursday morning, saying the State of the State is "strong" as he touted the economic successes of his administration.

Kemp said his administration was responsible for "171,000 new jobs and roughly $74.5 billion of investment in every corner of the Peach State over the last 5 years."

He also promoted action on school vouchers, announced pay raises for state employees, and expressed support for the Atlanta police training center.

Legislation that would create a school voucher program passed the Senate last year, but fumbled in the House on the last day of the session. Some Republicans hope 2024 is the year school choice becomes law.

Republican state Rep. Mesha Mainor (District 56) has long been a supporter of school choice. It’s her first session after switching to the Republican Party and she said Republican support for school vouchers factored into her decision.

State superintendent Richard Woods, who is also a Republican, was noncommittal about the proposed school vouchers.

Kemp also announced a $2,500 pay raise for public school teachers, and increased funding for school safety. School districts can choose how they use the money.

Georgia Association of Educators president Lisa Morgan said the pay raises for teachers are welcome but was concerned about other priorities Kemp highlighted.

Democratic Rep. Michelle Au was pleased to hear the governor is interested in expanding access to medical services for Georgians.

Kemp unveiled his budget proposals for fiscal year 2025 and the amended budget for fiscal year 2024, which included raises for state employees and more money for mental health services.

In the Democratic response, Rep. James Beverly (District 143-Macon) said his party was "frustrated" with "poor health care outcomes, skyrocketing rents and mortgages, the maternal mortality crisis, senseless gun violence [and] abortion bans." 

Lawmakers will return to the capitol tomorrow for the fifth consecutive legislative day. Next week, there will be no floor sessions due to budget committee meetings.

Tonight on Lawmakers  

Join host Donna Lowry and capitol reporter Sarah Kallis at 7 p.m. on GPB-TV for the 54th season of GPB's Lawmakers. The Jan. 11 episode features The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's elections and government reporter, Mark Niesse, and  Mercer University political science professor Chris Grant.