2021 Bill Doubling Georgia's Tuition Tax Credit Voucher Passes House Abruptly
The House passed an amended version of HB 517 (the new version of the bill is not available at the time of publication of this report), which aims to double funding
over the next five years for the state’s largest private school voucher program to $200 million. The voucher program, called the Tax Credit Scholarship Program, is currently financed with $100 million in state tax credits, which divert tax payer funds from the state budget. This voucher boost was a last-minute change to a bill originally designed to increase fiscal transparency for the voucher program.
PAGE opposes expanding this private school voucher program for multiple reasons, including:
Its impact on student learning is unknown. No information about student academic outcomes—including achievement, retention, and graduation—has been collected, and the program has not been evaluated despite operating for more than a decade.
There is no accountability mechanism to remove private schools that do not serve students effectively. This contrasts with public schools, which report extensive data on student achievement, school climate, and funding, and operate within a comprehensive accountability framework that includes corrective action if necessary.
No information is gathered about - and no restrictions are placed on - participating private schools’ curricula or instructional practices. Public schools follow state performance standards and provide information on and accept parental input into curriculum. Public schools also will likely operate under additional oversight policies if the General Assembly approves bills that prohibit divisive concepts in public schools and centralize existing parental input requirements.
The program diverts funds away from public education and other essential state services, limiting the state’s ability to make critical investments. These investments include funding for school counselors for special education and gifted students, which the state does not provide, and student transportation, where state funding has shrunk to approximately 14 percent of districts’ costs.
PAGE highlighted concerns about the program’s possible expansion and inadequate transparency requirements in HB 517 in a recent brief, which is available here. A detailed review of the tax credit voucher program is also available from PAGE here.
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.
The AJC published a brief story on today's House approval of HB 517 HERE. Photo credit for the image above: Bob Andres, AJC.
Senate Signs Off on AF22 Budget
The senate approved HB 901, which outlines proposed changes to the midterm budget including a one-time salary supplement for educators. More information about the senate’s version of the Amended Fiscal Year 2022 budget is available here. Senate Appropriations Chair Blake Tillery (R-Vidalia) noted that while state revenue is currently higher than initially projected, enabling new investments in the state’s workforce and other key initiatives, lawmakers will likely face fiscal constraints in coming years.
Friday, March 4: Legislative Day 24
House Education Committee, 8 a.m., 341 CAP
Tuesday, March 8: Legislative Day 25
Wednesday, March 9: Legislative Day 26