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Wednesday, January 25, 2023 - Legislative Day #7


GAE President Lisa Morgan at the state Capitol addressing reporters' questions on Gov. Kemp's State of the State address

The Georgia General Assembly met this morning, quickly adjourning to hear Gov. Brian Kemp give the annual State of the State speech.

Kemp began his speech discussing public education issues, including his budget recommendations to fully fund the Quality Basic Education (QBE) formula, which is used to allocate tax dollars to school districts.  Funding for public education increases under the governor's budgets to $1.9 billion for FY 2023 and FY 2024, he said.

Kemp also noted that he has proposed another $2,000 salary-step schedule increase for teachers.  Since Kemp was first elected in 2018, he has proposed pay raises totaling $7,000 for teachers on the state salary schedule.  Kemp said in his speech: "With the passage of this budget, the average teacher salary in Georgia will also now be over $7,000 higher than the Southeast regional average."

Nonetheless, even with the adoption of his latest raise, starting salaries will lag behind most all other states, including, for example, Alabama and Mississippi.  Since there is no state salary schedule for other educators, such as school bus drivers, food service personnel, custodians,  school maintenance personnel, para-professionals, administrative assistants, bookkeepers, they will not see a pay increase - unless local districts use local funds to boost their pay.

The governor also spoke to his proposal to encourage para-professionals to become certified teachers.  "[W]e know that teachers don't just need more pay and resources, they also need reinforcements.  That's why I'm furthering the teacher workforce pipeline measures we put into place during my first term through certification grants that will help para-professionals become teachers," he stated.  "With this one investment, we will add close to 5,000 new teachers to our education workforce," Kemp continued.

Kemp also pledged to restore funding for the HOPE Scholarship to cover 100% of tuition for eligible students.  In 2011, Gov. Nathan Deal and the legislature tightened eligibility requirements for HOPE and reduced the amount of tuition cover to 90%.  Democrats are proposing a "needs-based" HOPE Scholarship that helps students and families in financial need.  The current HOPE Scholarship is entirely based on a student's grade-point-average.

Democrats in their response also pledged to increase teacher salaries by $10,000, raise the minimum wage to $15-an-hour, and repeal the state's abortion restrictions.  You can view Sen. Elena Parent's response on behalf of Democrats at: https://www.gpb.org/events/news/2023/01/25/democratic-response-state-of-the-state.

The General Assembly will meet tomorrow, Thursday, January 26, at 10 a.m. for the 8th legislative day of the 40-day session.

Also tomorrow, the House Education Committee will have its first meeting of the year for the purpose of forming subcommittees and adopting committee rules.  No bills are expected to be heard tomorrow.  The meeting will be live streamed from Room 406 of the Coverdell Building at: https://vimeo.com/showcase/8988922?autoplay=1.

A joint meeting of the House Retirement and Senate Retirement committees has been scheduled for next Tuesday, January 31, at 2 p.m. in 606 Coverdell.  The agenda includes an overview of the Teachers Retirement System (TRS), the Public School Employees Retired System (PSERS), and the Employees Retirement System (ERS).  The meeting will be broadcast at https://vimeo.com/showcase/8972626?autoplay=1.

Make a difference in public education.  Introduce yourself to your state legislators today!

As a voter, an educator, and constituent, your legislators value your input.  Your lobbyists at the state Capitol are effective but they are no substitute for the views of a legislator's knowledgeable and engaged constituents.

As a hometown educator - a member of your local community with first-hand experience in public schools - it is critical for your legislators to hear and understand your perspective on education issues.

Take a moment to send a quick note to your representative in the Georgia House and your Senator.  Thank them for their service.  Make yourself available to him or her as a resource on issues affecting our schools, educators, and students.  Set up a meeting with them.  Invite them to your school.

A sample letter is included for you to use as a guide, but your own words and your own experiences will be most effective.  Introduce yourself.  Who are you, where do you work, what is your role in public education?  What are your aspirations for your students?

Your note will be forwarded automatically to your specific individual legislators.  Once you hit "submit," take a moment to note the names of your Representative and Senator if you did not already know them.

As the legislative session moves forward, you will want to follow up with your legislators on issues like TKES/LKES reform, public education funding, educator recruitment and retention, and many other issues that will come up, and GAE will provide you the information you need to do so.
Click Now!
All who value public education in our state will thank you.


Next Legislative Alert will be Thursday, January 26

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