Crossover Day Action
Crossover Day marks the day by which all legislation must pass the House or Senate in order to remain eligible to pass during the current session. The PAGE Day 28 Report covers bills considered before 8 p.m. on Monday, March 6. Education-related legislation which passed later in the evening will be included in the Day 29, Crossover Day Part 2 Report.
Senate Approves Creation of Georgia’s Third Private School Voucher Program
The Senate passed SB 233, voucher legislation opposed by PAGE, along party lines. It now moves to the House. The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Greg Dolezal (R-Cumming), would create a new type of private school voucher—an Education Savings Account, or ESA—that would send $6,000 to each participating student every year. The program would join the state’s two existing voucher programs, which carry a combined price tag of about $150 million annually. Read more about SB 233 in the PAGE Day 25 Report.
Dolezal amended the bill on the Senate floor to limit eligibility to students zoned to attend schools performing in the lowest student achievement quartile. Exact amendment language and analysis is not yet available. Several Democrats including Sen. Elena Parent (D-Atlanta) and Sen. Nan Orrock (D-Atlanta) proposed amendments requiring voucher-eligible schools to have been in operation for at least three years and requiring that voucher-eligible students must attend public schools for at least one year. Orrock cited a PAGE fiscal analysis of SB 233, necessitated due to lack of an official fiscal note, which PAGE and other education advocates have requested. Unfortunately, both Parent and Orrock’s amendments failed.
PAGE appreciates Senators Parent, Orrock, Jason Estevez (D-Atlanta), Derek Mallow (D-Savannah), and Nabilah Islam (D-Lawrenceville) for speaking against the bill, as well as former educator Freddie Simms (D-Dawson), who filed the minority report on SB 233.
General Assembly Approves Amended Budget for FY 2023
Lawmakers in both chambers signed off on the Amended Budget for Fiscal Year 2023, resolving differences between their earlier versions. They agreed on the following budget items:
$50 million to phase in an increase of $635 in the employer share of the per member per month cost for non-certified school district staff
$115.7 million for $50,000 safety grants for every public school
Eliminating $25 million for learning loss grants and directing districts to use federal pandemic relief funds for that purpose
$5 million for $3,000 reimbursable grants for paraprofessionals who are enrolled on or after Jan. 1, 2023, in a Georgia Teacher Academy for Preparation and Pedagogy (GaTAPP) program.
The budget now goes to Gov. Brian Kemp for his signature. Senate budget writers meet this week to examine the Fiscal Year 2024 budget, including education funding.
House Approves Tax Credit Voucher Expansion and Freeport Exemption Legislation
HB 101 by Rep. Clint Crowe (R-Jackson) was amended last Friday to boost the cap on Georgia's tax credit voucher program to $130 million annually in 2024. The bill passed the House by a vote of 102-73 with several Democrats speaking against the cap increase.
HB 504, by Rep. Matt Hatchett (R-Dublin), which would exclude freeport exemptions for purposes of calculating the local five mill share.
Accreditation and Literacy Bills Pass Senate
SB 204, by Sen. Dolezal, would establish specific criteria for agencies that accredit public schools. The criteria outlines evaluation components agencies must use in accrediting school districts, including measurements of student learning and financial efficiency.
SB 211, from Sen. Billy Hickman (R-Statesboro), would establish the Georgia Council on Literacy to set new district improvement requirements and oversight mechanisms. The council would comprise 10 legislators, two teachers, two superintendents, two school board members, and two literacy advocates. For more on SB 211, CLICK HERE.
Tuesday, March 7 – Legislative Day 29
Senate Education & Youth, 3 p.m., 307 CLOB
Wednesday, March 8 – Legislative Day 30
Thursday, March 9 – Legislative Day 31
Senate Appropriations Education & Higher Education Subcommittee, 7 a.m., 307 CLOB