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Day 4: Gov. Kemp Announces $2,500 Pay Raise While Endorsing Private School Vouchers; Adjournment Resolution

Updated: Jan 12

2024 State of the State Address

 Gov. Brian P. Kemp delivered his 2024 State of the State address to a joint session of the House and Senate, and outlined his proposals for the Amended Fiscal Year (AFY) 2024 and Fiscal Year (FY) 2025 budgets. Kemp proposes a $2,500 pay raise for certified teachers and staff in his FY 2025 budget, a PAGE advocacy priority. His spending plan also includes an additional $205 million for pupil transportation and $103 million for school security grants, a new item in the budget. PAGE, in partnership with other education groups, has advocated for increased transportation and school safety funding. Kemp included $11 million to support improving literacy instruction, which PAGE also encouraged. Highlights of specific changes in Kemp’s budget proposals are listed below:

 

Amended Fiscal Year 2024

  • $189 million increase for a one-time $1,000 salary supplement for full-time, benefit-eligible employees funded by the Quality Basic Education (QBE) formula and other units within the Georgia Department of Education (These funds have already been distributed to districts.)

  • -$1.7 million decrease in funding for charter schools to align with budget expenditures

  • -$6.3 decrease in funding for reduced-meal-paying students for breakfast and lunch through the 2023-2024 school year

  • $102 million increase for the mid-term adjustment for enrollment growth in the QBE formula

  • $9 million increase for the Special Needs Scholarship

  • $6.3 million increase for Completion Special Schools

  • $14.3 million increase to restore QBE funds to Mountain Education Charter School and Coastal Plains Charter School

  • $4.1 million increase for the mid-term adjustment for State Commission Charter School Supplement

  • -$711,000 decrease for Technology/Career Education to align budget with expenditures

  • $292,000 increase for statewide standardized testing in accordance with federal requirements

  • $12.3 million increase for dual enrollment to meet projected enrollment

 

The one-time $1,000 salary supplements in the AFY 2024 budget proposal were distributed to school districts in December.

 

Fiscal Year 2025

  • $367 million increase for a $2,500 salary increase for certified teachers and staff under the QBE formula, effective September 1, 2024

  • 4.1 percent increase in the state contribution of pay for school nutrition workers, bus drivers, and school nurses

  • $8.5 million for $1000 supplements for school custodians

  • $250 million increase for enrollment growth and training and experience

  • $68.4 million increase for an increase in the Teacher Retirement System employer contribution rate from 19.98 percent to 20.78 percent for employees funded by the Quality Basic Education formula and other units within the Georgia Department of Education

  • $242 million increase to cover an increase in per-member per-month employer contribution for health insurance

  • $49.5 million increase in formula funds for the State Commission Charter School Supplement

  • $103 million increase for school safety grants

  • $5 million increase to provide a universal literacy screener for all K-3 students pursuant to HB 538

  • $6.3 million increase to fund two Literacy Coaches per Regional Education Service Agency and provide $2,000 supplements to Literacy Support Coordinators and Leads at school districts

  • $20 million in bond funds for bus replacement

  • $15 million increase for dual enrollment to meet projected enrollment

Detailed information about Kemp’s budget proposals will be provided by State Superintendent Richard Woods and other state agency heads at a joint meeting of the House and Senate appropriations committees next week. Following the joint committee meeting, the appropriations committees of each chamber will review and make changes to the budget proposals before final approval by both chambers. PAGE will provide additional information throughout the budget process.

 

Private School Vouchers

In his address, Kemp provided a strong endorsement of private school vouchers, a reference to a fierce and unfinished debate that began in the 2023 session over SB 233, a bill that would create Georgia’s third voucher program. The Senate approved SB 233, but the House did not. Kemp’s vocal support for vouchers intensifies pressure on 16 Republicans who voted against SB 233. Most of these legislators represent rural communities with little access to private schools. SB 233 would create a new type of private school voucher—an Education Savings Account, or ESA—that would send $6,500 to each participating student, every year.

 

SB 233 could be voted on again by the House early this session. To learn more about the proposed new voucher and why it is wrong for Georgia’s students, teachers, and taxpayers, read the PAGE SB 233 analysis here. More resources on private school voucher advocacy can be found HERE.

 

Using PAGE best practices, contact your House of Representatives members now and ask him or her to vote NO on SB 233. Georgia educators, students, and taxpayers want Georgia elected officials to stand up for fiscal transparency, academic accountability, and Georgia public schools. Find your House member’s contact information HERE.

 

PAGE Response

PAGE Executive Director Craig Harper provided a response to Kemp’s address:

 

PAGE applauds Gov. Kemp’s proposal to raise Georgia educator salaries by $2,500. This needed boost reflects the essential role of educators and public education in preparing Georgia students and Georgia’s economy for a bright future.

 

Further, we appreciate the governor’s plan to allocate more than $200 million toward pupil transportation. This proposal, requested by PAGE and in conjunction with other education groups, represents a significant step toward transportation-funding parity between the state and local school districts. 

 

We are also grateful for the governor’s funding support for Georgia literacy efforts. Together with his recently announced annual funding for school safety, the state budget reflects multiple priorities of PAGE members and Georgia school families. 

 

Teacher recruitment and retention via salary increases, pupil transportation, literacy, and school safety are critical priorities for our state.

 

Though we deeply appreciate the governor’s public education funding priorities, we strongly and respectfully disagree that vouchers are in the best interest of Georgia students. PAGE believes that creating a third Georgia private school voucher program will divert critical funding away from public schools which serve 1.6 million Georgia students. These public schools are accountable for student achievement and use of taxpayer funds, in contrast with private schools, which can pick and choose their students. Voucher program costs will hamstring Georgia’s ability to fund public safety and public education. Voucher program costs have soared in other states. Worse, these programs have not been shown to increase student achievement. More vouchers are not the answer, and we look forward to working with the governor and other policymakers on solutions that benefit all Georgia students.

  

Watch the State of the State address HERE. Read Gov. Kemp’s full remarks HERE.

 

Adjournment Resolution Approved

 The House and Senate approved an adjournment resolution setting the calendar for the remainder of the 2024 legislative session:

  • Friday, Jan. 12 – Legislative Day 5

  • Monday, Jan. 22 – Legislative Day 6

  • Tuesday, Jan 23 – Legislative Day 7

  • Wednesday, Jan 24 – Legislative Day 8

  • Thursday, Jan. 25 – Legislative Day 9

  • Friday, Jan. 26 – Legislative Day 10

  • Monday, Jan. 29 – Legislative Day 11

  • Tuesday, Jan. 30 – Legislative Day 12

  • Wednesday, Jan. 31 – Legislative Day 13

  • Thursday, Feb. 1 – Legislative Day 14

  • Monday, Feb. 5 – Legislative Day 15

  • Tuesday, Feb. 6 – Legislative Day 16

  • Wednesday, Feb. 7 – Legislative Day 17

  • Thursday, Feb. 8 – Legislative Day 18

  • Friday, Feb. 9 – Legislative Day 19

  • Monday, Feb. 12 – Legislative Day 20

  • Tuesday, Feb. 13 – Legislative Day 21

  • Thursday, Feb. 15 – Legislative Day 22

  •  Tuesday, Feb. 20 – Legislative Day 23, PAGE Day on Capitol Hill

  • Wednesday, Feb. 21 – Legislative Day 24

  • Thursday, Feb. 22 – Legislative Day 25

  • Monday, Feb. 26 – Legislative Day 26

  • Tuesday, Feb. 27 – Legislative Day 27

  • Wednesday, Feb. 28 – Committee Workday

  • Thursday, Feb. 29 – Legislative Day 28, Crossover Day

  • Monday, March 4 – Legislative Day 29

  • Tuesday, March 5 – Legislative Day 30

  • Wednesday, March 6 – Committee Workday

  • Thursday, March 7 – Legislative Day 31

  • Friday, March 8 – Legislative Day 32

  • Monday, March 11 – Legislative Day 33

  • Tuesday, March 12 – Committee Workday

  • Wednesday, March 13 – Legislative Day 34

  • Thursday, March 14 – Legislative Day 35

  • Monday, March 18 – Legislative Day 36

  • Tuesday, March 19 – Committee Workday

  • Wednesday, March 20 – Legislative Day 37

  • Thursday, March 21 – Legislative Day 38

  • Monday, March 25 – Committee Workday

  • Tuesday, March 26 – Legislative Day 39

  • Thursday, March 28 – Legislative Day 40, Sine Die

 

 Upcoming Schedule

 

Friday, Jan. 12 – Legislative Day 4

 

Tuesday, Jan. 16 Joint Appropriations Hearings, GaDOE Presents at 10:15 a.m

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