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Committee Workday Report - Senate Schedules Vote on Voucher Bill, Reviews FY23 Ed Budget

Action Alert: Ask your senator to vote ‘NO’ on SB 601, which would create third private school voucher program

Push for Third Private School Voucher Program in Senate

The Senate will vote on SB 601, which aims to create Georgia’s third private school voucher program, Tuesday, March 15. SB 601 is authored by Senate President Pro Tempore Butch Miller (R-Gainesville), who is campaigning to be lieutenant governor. The bill quickly moved through the Senate Education & Youth committee, which refused to hear input from the public on SB 601.

The ESA voucher program outlined in SB 601 offers few academic accountability safeguards for students and undermines public schools.

SB 601:

  • Copies voucher programs that resulted in student learning losses in other states.

  • Triggers loss of special needs students’ rights to federally required services.

  • Has inadequate quality and transparency measures to safeguard public funds.

  • Lacks an accountability mechanism to remove or intervene with private schools or educational providers that do not serve students effectively.

An analysis of SB 601 is available from PAGE HERE.

Georgia already spends more than $135 million on private school vouchers each year and is poised to spend even more with the 2021 expansion of the state special needs voucher. Sending more public dollars to private schools would curtail the state’s ability to make other critical investments in Georgia’s public school students, including:

  • Funding school counselors for special education and gifted students, which the state currently does not do.

  • Restoring the state’s share of student transportation funding to 50 percent, the portion it previously covered.

  • Boosting funding for substitute teachers, which lawmakers have not increased since 1985.

  • Adding resources for low-income students, who do not currently receive additional state funds to meet the extra needs these students often bring to the classroom.

Find your senator's contact information HERE. Tips for advocating on education issues are available HERE. Always send emails from your personal (not school) email address outside of instructional hours.

Senate Budget Writers Review Proposed FY23 Education Spending Plan

Rusk Roam, chief financial officer for the Georgia Department of Education, and other education agency leaders presented the proposed Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 budget to the Senate Education Appropriations, highlighting changes the House made to Gov. Brian Kemp’s original recommendations. Most changes were “true-ups,” revisions made by the House to reflect more recent data, and generated little discussion among committee members. Two adjustments prompted questions from committee members.

Roam noted that House budget writers removed the $3 million initially added to the special needs scholarship program because they were not confident this amount was accurate. The program is expected to expand more than in previous years due to the inclusion of students with Section 504 plans, which was approved in SB 47 in 2021. Roam indicated that he anticipates adding funds to this voucher program in the Amended Fiscal Year 2023 budget during the 2023 legislative session.

Sen. Freddie Sims (D-Dawson) raised concerns about the elimination of funds from the university system’s budget to support elementary education programs at Valdosta State, Savannah State, Albany State, and Fort Valley State universities as well as a scholarship program to recruit paraprofessionals to Valdosta State. Sims questioned the removal of these funds given the teacher shortage in many rural communities and other areas.

More information about the House version of the FY23 is available from PAGE HERE.

Upcoming Schedule

Tuesday, March 15: Legislative Day 28/Crossover Day

Wednesday, March 16, Legislative Day 29

  • Senate Education & Youth Committee, 2 p.m., 307 CLOB

Thursday, March 17, Legislative Day 30

Friday, March 18, Legislative Day 31


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