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Tuesday, March 21, 2023 - Day 37

Three legislative days remain in 2023 session
Archive of Past Legislative Alerts

Voucher bill passes House Education Committee

SB 233, a bill to give taxpayer-funded subsidies for private school tuition and fees, passed the House Education Committee this afternoon.  The committee met this morning to hear changes to the bill, including an increase in the subsidy from $6,000 to $6,500.

The bill will may be voted on by the full House of Representatives Thursday.

Please continue to contact legislators expressing your opposition to the bill.

In addition to increasing the voucher amount, other amendments were made to the bill, including changes that:
  • Eliminates pre-K eligibility,
  • Requires a qualifying student to have been enrolled in public school for two consecutive
    FTE enrollment counts,
  • Requires that the benefitting private school "be located in Georgia," and
  • Prohibits a student from received both the existing Special Needs voucher and this new voucher.  However, a student's family could still participate in this voucher program and receive a tax break if they also donate to a private school.

The committee refused to include anonymous family income data in reports about the program.  In most states, utilization of private school vouchers is by higher income families and not middle class or poorer citizens, which the proponents of this legislation say the bill is intended to benefit.

As the bill is written, for every dollar a "under-performing" public school received, two dollars would flow to the private school that a student enrolls in with this voucher.  Homeschooling costs are also covered by the bill.

Proponents says otherwise, but they include in the $6,500 voucher, for example, monies from the state to schools for things like school capital construction, building maintenance and operations, which should not be taken from schools and re-directed to a private school.

At one point in his presentation of his bill, Sen. Greg Dolezal referred to GAE and other public education advocacy groups as "education bureaucrats."


Please help us contact all members of the House to urge them to vote "NO" on SB 233.  Click here, where a sample letter is provided for you to personalize.  By entering some basic information, your message will be sent directly to members of the House.

ESP Retirement Bill Passes House Committee

Legislation inspired by GAE's initiative to improve salaries and benefits for Education Support Professionals (ESPs) passed the House Retirement Committee this afternoon.  SB 240 requires that a list be compiled of school systems that do not participate in the Social Security System for school custodians, cafeteria workers, bus drivers, and maintenance personnel, whose retirement pension is administered by the Public School Employees Retirement System (PSERS).

Even if a school district opted-out of Social Security for those in the Teachers Retirement System (TRS), they must still participate in Social Security for ESPs in PSERS or provide another qualifying plan.

Meanwhile, a GAE-backed bill, SB 105, earlier was referred for an actuarial study by the Senate Retirement Committee.  This bill would allow retirement benefits for PSERS participants to rise as high as the General Assembly would fund them.  The current average monthly benefit is $290 a month.

Monthly benefits are calculated using a simple formula, a dollar amount multiplied by years of service.  Currently, that multiplier is set at $16.00.  It could rise to $16.50, but no higher, under current state law.

SB 105 eliminates that multiplier cap altogether and creates a $17 minimum.  The multiplier could never drop below that.  SB 105 would be eligible for a vote in the Senate next session after the completion of the actuarial study.

GAE has also worked with legislators in the House and Senate to increase the current multiplier to the current maximum allow in current law.  The version of next year's state budget that has passed the House of Representatives includes funding to do that.
Bill would increase tax breaks
for donors to private schools

HB 101 could be heard again Wednesday in the Senate Finance Committee.  The bill was tabled Monday by the Committee.

The bill increases by $10 million annually the amount the state gives in tax breaks to donors to private schools.  The increase would bring to $130 million a year the amount the state spends to encourage and reward donations to private schools.

The committee is scheduled to meet again Wednesday when they may take up HB 101 and vote on the amendments and the bill.
Senate Education Committee passes several bills

The Senate Education and Youth Committee met at 8 a.m. this morning and adopted HB 51, to allow schools to use smaller, alternative transportation for up to 8 students, such as a mini-van or larger SUV, for club meets or school competitions.

The committee also gave its approval to HB 338, "Student Technology Protection Act," which requires "grade appropriate" internet filters on all school-issued technology devices.

The committee also passed HB 538, the "Georgia Early Literacy Act."  According to the sponsor, the bill will "teach the teachers how to teach reading."

The committee also passed HB 81, to make changes to state laws that governs low-wealth capital outlay grants used to assist school systems with relatively low tax bases.  These grants help fund school construction programs.  These school districts fall in the bottom 25% of districts based on sales tax and property tax revenue.  
Senate agrees to House-amended measure to ban gender dysphoria surgery
SB 140, a bill to prohibit gender dysphoria surgery and hormone therapy for those under the age of 18, passed the Senate today.  The version that passed today includes changes that the House made to subject health care personnel to criminal and civil arrest for violating the proposed law.
Legislative Update and LCT Zoom Call Thursday
Join GAE President Lisa Morgan and GAE lobbyist Joe Fleming for an update on the current legislative session, this Thursday, March 23, at 6:30 - 7:30 p.m.  Register here: https://www.mobilize.us/mobilize/event/554408/.

There are three legislative days left in the 2023 Legislative Session.  The session ends Wednesday, March 29.  The General Assembly has scheduled tomorrow as a "Committee Work Day."
Next Update will be Thursday, March 23 - Day 38
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