One of Republican Brian Kemp’s first acts as Georgia governor involved revamping the state’s handling of sexual harassment complaints and placing State Inspector General Deborah Wallace in charge of the issue.
Kemp now wants to expand Wallace’s office, adding $435,182 to fund five new positions in his proposed fiscal 2021 budget, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Kemp’s budget proposal must be approved by lawmakers.
The expansion, which would represent a 43% budget increase for the small agency, comes as other state agencies are being asked to trim their budgets amid a revenue shortfall.
Kemp also proposed an additional $250,000 in the current year’s budget, as the agency already brought on new staff to handle complaints.
“Gov. Kemp is committed to a safe, harassment-free environment for state employees and constituents, and his budget reflects this priority,” said spokeswoman Candice Broce. “Through new funding, we will add several staff positions to the Office of Inspector General to investigate complaints, audit agencies for compliance and provide greater oversight for sexual harassment cases.”
Kemp signed an executive order in January 2019 that required state agencies to report all sexual harassment complaints to the inspector general’s office and gave Wallace the authority to independently review and investigate cases. Wallace’s office has recorded nearly 150 complaints from state government offices since the policy took effect in March.