Governor Brian Kemp unveils what he has accomplished and what he will attain during his remaining term of three years.
By Anna Kim
As Georgia Governor Brian Kemp marks one year in office, he expressed his thoughts about some crucial issues that the Korean community is currently concerned about during an exclusive interview conducted in his office at the Georgia State Capitol on the 17th of February, 2020. His remarks shed light on what he has achieved and what he will have for three years to come. To move forward, Governor Kemp emphasized the importance of the Korean corporations and the Korean community to go hand in hand with the state government.
Q: What programs has the state government played out to sustain the mentally handicapped and to make their families better off in taking care of them? We are concerned about your proposal of the budget cuts in the mental health management and county health services that you recently made at the Capitol.
A: First of all, what we’re doing is forcing the agencies to streamline government to make it more efficient. However, we’re adding about 50 million dollars of new money for mental health services, 94 million for Medicaid and that’s one reason that we have to make cuts in other areas. Last year, we doubled funding for the APEX program which is putting more counselors into our high schools to help with the mental health issues there. There’s going to be working over the next year or so to further address what we need to be doing in Georgia to solve the mental health crisis that’s going on.
Q: SK Innovation and LG Chem have waged a battle in court. Both corporations are among the conglomerates to boost Georgia economic growth and they all are an asset for state prosperity.
A: I wouldn’t be able to comment on a legal matter.That’s not the place for the Governor of Georgia, but I will tell you we have great relationships with both companies and look forward to working with them in the future. We look for big things to come from both of them as well as other companies. As you know we have many great South Korean companies in Georgia.
A: I think the biggest thing we achieved is just to let the great South Korean companies that we’re already doing business with know how much we appreciate their business. I made it a point to take my first international visit to South Korea. It’s a very important trading partner, business partner with the state of Georgia. I learned a lot going over there and not only from big companies like SK, LG, and, um, KIA, but also smaller companies like Sansin Brakes and others that have great projects. I wanted to let them know that they have a Governor that’s gonna continue to have several things based on that trip that I think will bode well for the state in the future. We will continue to support the great companies we have here.
Q: What steps would you take to form significant job creation for three years to come?
A: Our philosophy is it’s up to the private sector to create jobs we wanna…We wanna have an environment in Georgia where we have a business climate that is the best in the country. We are the number one state in the country to do business with for the seventh year in a row, certainly the great projects that we’ve had from South Korean companies is a big part of that, but we’re not resting on our laurels. We have the Georgians First Commission that I created that’s really looking at reducing bureaucracy and red tape and access to capital and other things to help us be the number one state in the country for the small businesses that’s a big driver of our economy. I’m very optimistic about our future in job creation in Georgia. They would have created about 70,000 jobs in the last 12 months in Georgia. We have the lowest unemployment that we’ve ever had in our state since we started keeping records of that and we have the most number of people employed right now. So we’re doing very well and we have to continue working on our workforce, that’s one of the biggest things the South Korean companies that are looking to locate here, they want to have a qualified workforce and they know that Georgia is very good at doing that.
Q: President Donald Trump Administration has adopted strong immigration policies. What stance has the state of Georgia taken over the President’s tough immigration laws?
A: Well, I certainly support legal immigration just like the President does. I think what he’s trying to do is make sure that we don’t have illegal immigrants in drug cartels that are crossing the border, mainly to the South of us. I mean that’s a big problem that we have in Georgia with street gangs and drug cartels and I certainly support him in that effort. I also think the President has made it clear that we would welcome having comprehensive immigration reform that starts with securing the border. However, the Democrats in Congress don’t want to have anything to do with that.
Q: You declared a war against crime and violence including human trafficking and drug cartels. To crack down on the silos, what are the salient points that the state government will promote and propel from now on?
A: We’ve done several things as far as going after street gangs, and really shutting down the distribution network for the drug cartels. We’re also trying to this year legislatively put some more teeth into the gang statutes and make it a little easier for prosecutors to go after those individuals no matter where they’re doing business in our state which will allow them to prosecute across county lines and then we have our street gang database up, where we can tear down the silos and better communicate between local state and federal partners. We’re doing quite a bit there on the human trafficking side. We’re number one raising awareness. We’ve probably done better than anyone in the country because of the efforts of our First Lady, my wife, Marty Kemp, and the Grace Commission. We’re working on legislation this year to toughen the penalties to go after the perpetrators and help the victims to reenter into society and go on to live a productive life in our state.
Q: Recently, HB819 was sponsored in the House of Representatives’ Chamber. This bill manifests that the war veterans who fought for the USA’s allied countries should be issued an exclusive/distinctive driver’s license to honor their sacrifice and provide privileges for them. Are you willing to sign on the bill once it is passed? There are a lot of Korean veterans in Georgia who took part in the Vietnam War.
A: I haven’t seen that bill, the author of that bill hasn’t brought it and asked for our support, so I wouldn’t really be able to comment on that.