Democratic Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams announced on June 23 that she would push for a pay raise for law enforcement officers if she wins the upcoming November election.
Some observers say, Abrams, known for more progressive stances, is doing a balancing act in her effort to beat incumbent Republican Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp.
Abrams made the announcement on Twitter after Kemp released an ad claiming that Abrams supports the “defund the police” movement. Abrams said she has never advocated for defunding law enforcement.
Under Abrams’s proposed package, the base salary of police officers would be raised to roughly $50,000 over two years. She also promised another $25 million in direct grants to local law enforcement agencies to help finance pay hikes and defray housing costs for staffers, Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
According to the Abrams campaign, her law enforcement proposal will cost a projected $180 million-plus over two years. She said she would also expand mental health training and require local police departments seeking increased state funding to adopt updated use-of-force and de-escalation strategies.
The starting pay is $38,040 for a correctional officer, $37,730 for a juvenile justice correctional officer, and $39,671 for a community supervision officer, according to her campaign.
State patrol officers have a starting salary of $40,080 for cadets, though the base salary rises to more than $52,000 for those who attend or complete trooper school.
The Abrams plan for a police pay hike came after she unveiled a $1.65 billion plan to increase the minimum salary of Georgia public school teachers to $50,000 a year, which would lift their pay by $11,000 annually over four years.
The election is a much-anticipated rematch between Abrams and Kemp. In 2018, Kemp narrowly defeated Abrams in the election for Georgia governor. Abrams won the Democratic nomination in May after she ran unopposed in the party’s primary.
Through her voting advocacy, Abrams has been credited with helping turn Georgia blue for the first time in nearly 30 years when the state voted for President Joe Biden in 2020. She has been at the forefront of the fight for voters’ rights.
A former minority leader in the Georgia state House, Abrams has supported reparations.
“I think that reparations make sense,” she told the New York Times. “We need to determine what that looks like. Because we’ve refused to have the conversation about it, we’ve never been able to get to the analysis and, therefore, the prescription. But we have to acknowledge that in the U.S., it wasn’t simply that we didn’t like a certain group we’ve built — no. Not we, they. The government built systems designed to exclude and to diminish the capacity of communities to participate in their own economic survival.”
She explained her stance on reparations in an interview with The Root.
“I believe African Americans and Native Americans are entitled to reparations,” she said. “We are the two communities who were legally disenfranchised from the inception of this country and we are the two communities that had legal structures that were put in place for such a long period of time that our ability to achieve and have access to opportunity at a level that was commensurate with the rest of America was just not available.”
Photo: Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams talks to the media during the Georgia’s Primary election, May 24, 2022, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
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