Budget Plan to Add Back Portion of K-12 Funding Cut Moves Forward
The House Education Appropriations Subcommittee approved HB 80, which outlines changes to the Fiscal Year 2021 budget. The bill, known as the Amended Fiscal Year 2021 (AFY21) budget, includes $567 million to reduce the nearly $1 billion cut from the Quality Basic Education (QBE) formula last spring. QBE is the state’s formula for distributing funds to K-12 schools. This partial restoration decreases the QBE cut to about $383 million for the current school year.
Chairman Todd Jones (R-South Forsyth) also announced the addition of $38.6 million to replace old school buses. According to Jones, there is a backlog of about 800 buses around the state that need to be replaced. The additional dollars would buy about 500 buses. This allocation addresses one aspect of escalating student transportation costs for school districts. The other area is operating costs. State dollars have not kept pace with the costs of safely busing students to and from school.
Special Needs Scholarship Voucher Program to Receive More Funding
The Special Needs Scholarship, one of Georgia’s two existing private school voucher programs, is slated to get a funding boost due to an increase in participating students. Jones reported program participation is up about 4,700 students. PAGE highlighted concerns about the special needs voucher as well as the state’s second voucher program in its 2019 report, Pushing Public Dollars to Private Schools.
The House Appropriations Committee is set to vote on HB 80 on Wednesday, Jan. 27. If approved as anticipated, the bill will move to the Rules Committee, which will determine when it will be voted on by the full House.
New Schedule for General Assembly
Lawmakers set the dates for the next eight legislative days.
Day 6: Wednesday, Jan. 27
Day 7: Thursday, Jan. 28
Day 8: Friday, Jan. 29
Day 9: Monday, Feb. 1
Day 10: Tuesday, Feb. 2
Day 11: Wednesday, Feb. 3
Day 12: Thursday, Feb. 4
Day 13: Monday, Feb. 8
Thus far, state lawmakers have focused primarily on the budget. With session dates set and the initial review of Kemp’s proposed budgets complete, committee chairs are scheduling meetings to begin reviewing proposed legislation.