Scaled-Back Voucher Expansion Approved, Transgender Student Athlete & GSHA Provisions Added to Final Divisive Concepts Bill, Recess Requirement & QBE Study Pass
This post has been updated to note late-night passage of education-related legislation. As expected, the General Assembly worked late into the evening on its final legislative day, Day 40. The last day of the general assembly is often referred to as "Sine Die," Latin for "without a day."
Before wrapping, the House and Senate passed the state budget and several important education bills, some of which stalled earlier in the legislative session and were revived last night by amending them onto legislation primed to pass.
Educator Pay Raise Approved in FY 2023 Budget
Lawmakers signed off on the proposed $2,000 pay raise for certified educators in the Fiscal Year 2023 budget, which adds to the $3,000 pay raise approved in 2019 for a total pay raise of $5,000. The budget, laid out in HB 911, provides a 5.4 percent pay raise for school nurses, bus drivers, and school nutrition staff. The budget also adds back $383 million cut from the QBE formula, as well as funds cut from other areas of the education budget. The budget makes no changes to funding for Georgia Networks for Educational & Therapeutic Supports (GNETS), as proposed recently by the Senate, but directs policymakers to work with GNETS providers to recommend updates to the program's funding formula by Nov. 1.
Learn more about the FY23 $2,000 pay raise as well as a one-time educator pay supplement passed by the legislature via the AFY22 state budget in the PAGE explainer HERE.
House and Senate Approve Education Bill on Day 40
The following legislation passed and is on its way to Gov. Brian Kemp for signature. All unsigned legislation will become law 40 days after Sine Die, unless vetoed by the governor. As of publication of this report, the state legislative website has not yet been updated to reflect the newest version of bills.
HB 1084 by Rep. Will Wade (D-Dawsonville), which prohibits the teaching of Divisive Concepts, was amended to include language regarding transgender student athletes and oversight of the Georgia High School Association. More from PAGE in our Divisive Concepts video explainer HERE.
HB 517 by Rep. John Carson (R-Marietta) passed via a conference committee report and expands the voucher program which currently diverts $100 million annually from the state general fund to private school tuition to $120 million each year. The agreement reached between House and Senate conferees adds some additional financial transparency but strikes a provision in current law which would have lowered the cap on the program to $58 million in 2029.
SR 650 from Sen. Mike Dugan (R-Carrollton), creates a study committee that will examine how the state funds public education, including the QBE formula, equalization grants for low-wealth districts, funding for virtual schools, and capital outlay.
HB 1283 by Rep. Demetrius Douglas (D-Stockbridge) requires recess for all students in grades one through five on days they do not have structured activities or physical education classes.
HB 1215 by Rep. Brad Thomas (R-Holly Springs), proposes updates to several provisions in state law related to charter schools.
The Senate agreed to the House’s version of SB 345 by Sen. Jeff Mullis (R-Chickamauga), a bill which prohibits public employers, including school districts, from requiring that employees receive the COVID-19 vaccine. The prohibition would sunset on June 30, 2023.
HR 881 by Rep. Mack Jackson (D-Sandersville) encourages each Georgia public school to study the Civil Rights Era and related subjects and to affirm the commitment of the free peoples of this state to reject bigotry, champion equal protection under the law as a foundational principle, and act in opposition to injustice wherever it may occur.
SB 220 "The Georgia Civics Renewal Act," by Sen. Chuck Payne (R-Dalton) requires financial literacy coursework and creation of the Georgia Commission for Civics Education.
Thank You from the PAGE Legislative Team
The PAGE Legislative Team was proud to serve you during the 2022 Legislative Session. It was a pleasure to connect policymakers with the voices and perspectives of Georgia educators. Thank you for reading PAGE reports, for your education advocacy, and for serving Georgia students.
A comprehensive 2022 Legislative Session report on the AFY22 and FY23 state budgets and which education bills passed and did not pass will be published by mid-April.