Former Georgia educator weighs in on state budget

Former University System of Georgia employees who lost their job during the pandemic are now weighing in as thousands of state employees are expected to get a pandemic-related bonus.

The coronavirus recovery efforts are underway in Georgia as federal and state lawmakers attempt to stimulate the economy and help those who have been laid off. This week, Gov. Brian Kemp signed the amended the Fiscal Year 2021 Budget, which included giving 57,000 state employees a bonus. This included K-12 public school educators and staff.

This comes just six months after the state mandated that all 26 public colleges and universities make cuts, including layoffs and furloughs.

"I just don’t understand how they can now turn around and give these bonuses," said Louise Irizarry, former Kennesaw State University employee.


"I was blindsided. I worked eight years and I found out on a Zoom call that I needed to clean my office out and leave," said Irizarry. 

She said she was nearly two years away from retiring when she found out last fall that she was being let go.

"That’s what I don’t get. That was one of the first things I asked in the interview, what about my seniority?" said Irizarry. "I was told it didn’t go by seniority and so I asked if it went by how much money I was making."


Even though she wasn’t a K-12 public school educator, she was a state employee with the University System of Georgia. The USG recently announced they would honor the same $1,000 bonuses to all of their employees.

"To see that they are matching the $1,000," said Irizarry. "It’s not a good feeling at all."

The USG issued the following statement:

"Since last fall, the state’s fiscal outlook has improved dramatically. With declining state revenues, the University System of Georgia (USG) experienced budget reductions, along with most other state agencies due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, USG received new state and federal funding which we did not anticipate. We sincerely appreciate the strong support from Governor Kemp, the Georgia General Assembly and federal leaders, which now allows us to mirror the State of Georgia’s plan for employee bonuses."

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