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Thursday, January 11, 2024 - Day 4
Picture of the Georgia state Capitol today



Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp told legislators this morning to pass a private school voucher bill, but offered no specifics on how such a bill should be structured.  "My office and I look forward to working with the members and leadership of both chambers to get a [voucher] bill passed and signed into law this session," Kemp said in a speech to a joint session of the House and Senate.  He implied that "competition" from private schools would make public schools better, referring to students as "products" and parents as "consumers."

Kemp told lawmakers: "I firmly believe we can take an all-of-the-above approach to education ... whether it’s public, private, homeschooling, charter, or otherwise."

GAE President Lisa Morgan said, in response, "The correct answer is not 'all of the above.'  The correct answer is "C," for our Constitution that requires us to fund an "adequate" public education for our students."

SB 233 - legislation that steals from the poorest students in the poorest schools to pay for more privileged students to attend private schools - is eligible for further consideration this year despite being voted down 89-85 last session.  President Morgan called SB 233 "welfare for the wealthy."

Sixteen House Republicans joined all but one Democrat in defeating the bill in 2023.  GAE will continue to lead the efforts to defeat the bill and will work with legislators, Republican and Democratic alike, who support public education and oppose the bill.

Kemp did have some good news for public education, announcing that he is asking the legislature to raise the salaries of classroom teachers by $2,500.  However, he offered nothing for ESPs (Education Support Professionals).  GAE is working to get clarification on the details of the raise.

Separately, he said, "All state employees" will be receiving pay increases of four percent.

Gov. Kemp has said he planned to increase funding for K-12 education by $1.4 billion to $12.8 billion annually.  No additional details were given.

He also will ask the General Assembly for $104 million to be provided to schools for school safety programs.  The specific use of those dollars would be determined by the local school systems.

The governor says his budget will include additional funding for the expansion of mental health programs in the state and anti-human trafficking initiatives.

Kemp also called for an accelerated implementation of a tax cut, lowering the top income tax rate to 5.39%.

The full text of the governor's speech is available online at: https://gov.georgia.gov/press-releases/2024-01-11/governor-brian-p-kemps-2024-state-state-address.

Kemp's address can also watched at: https://www.gpb.org/lawmakers/2024/state-of-the-state

Calendar for the legislative
session released

The House today passed a resolution outlining the legislative calendar for the remainder of the session.

Adjournment will be
Thursday, March 28Crossover Day, the day on which a bill must have passed the chamber of its origin to be eligible for consideration by the other chamber, is Thursday, February 29 (Leap Day).

New legislation

HB 914 would require that the costs of drivers' education classes offered by school systems be borne by local boards of education, student fees, or state funds.

SB 351
, entitled the "Protecting Georgia's Children on Social Media Act of 2024" was filed this week.  The bill adds to the requirements of state Board of Education-approved comprehensive character education programs for grades K-12.

Specifically, the bill requires that curriculum include instruction in "promoting responsible digital citizenship and the safe and appropriate use of technology, the internet, and social media."  Further the bill requires discussion on "the negative effects of social media on the mental health of users" in grades 6-12.

The legislation also would require that each local board of education adopt a social media policy, by August 1, 2024, that prevents "students from accessing social media platforms through the use of computer equipment, communications services, or internet access that is operated, owned, 

leased, or otherwise provided by the local board of education, local school system, or public school, except when expressly authorized by a school administrator or teacher solely for appropriate educational purposes."

The 19-page bill also requires social media sites verify the age of users to prevent access to minors under 16 years of age.

In the House, a similar internet age-verification bill has been filed, HB 910.

910 states: "Any commercial entity that knowingly and intentionally publishes or distributes material 'harmful to minors' on a website that contains a substantial portion of such material shall verify the age of the individuals attempting to access such material ..."

HB 900
would create a new QBE funding formula to establish the Refugee and International Students Equalization (RISE) program with a weight of 1.2 to provide for funding and wraparound services for eligible students who were born outside of the United States.
The next Legislative Update
will be Monday, January 22 - Day 6

Join us on
Wednesday, January 17, 2024
at 6:30 p.m., on the
GAE President's Facebook page,
for more information and updates
on the legislative session
Follow us on: facebook twitter
100 Crescent Center Pkwy, Suite 500 | Tucker, GA 30084 US
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