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Monday, January 23, 2023 - Legislative Day #5


Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives Jon Burns, in a story Friday in the Atlanta newspaper, said he expects a "robust" discussion of school funding.  Burns also opened up the possibility of new private school voucher expansion.  Voucher legislation was shut down last year by then-Speaker David Ralston, who passed away in November.

A Senate Study Committee held several hearings last year on public school funding but as of yet had not released a report or any recommendations.

GAE President Lisa Morgan testified before the committee in December asking Senators to consider:
  • Additional funding for school counselors,
  • A new QBE allocation for school districts that have a high number of students living in poverty,
  • Funding for salary increases and retirement benefits for educators, and
  • Allocations to make permanent school nutrition programs and to upgrade and maintain  aging fleets of school buses, among other things.
Morgan also noted at the hearing that the state Constitution requires only provision for "an adequate public education," which is funded by the Quality Basic Education Act.

"It is a shame that our standards are so low.  AdequateBasic," Morgan told Senators.  "We fail our children with such low standards.  The truth is current funding levels for our schools are NOT adequate.  "Adequate" and "basic" are not synonyms for “quality” or “excellence.”

Gov. Brian Kemp's proposed budgets, which he unveiled Thursday, January 5, does provide some additional funding to improve counselor-to-student ratios and the purchase of about 235 new school buses.  His budget also includes another $2,000 increase in the state salary schedule for some state-funded educators but not for Education Support Professionals or locally-funded educators.


GAE and state Senator Randy Robertson are working to address shamefully low monthly pensions for cafeteria workers, school bus drivers, school maintenance workers, and custodians who are participants in the Public School Employees Retirement System (PSERS).

Currently, ESPs in PSERS receive an average of $290 a month in retirement benefits.

Senator Robertson told members of the budget committees from both chambers last week that in some cases, where the school district does not participate in the Social Security System, $290 is all these valuable workers have for their retirement.
CLICK THE PICTURE ABOVE TO WATCH: State Sen. Randy Robertson asks about PSERS benefits for ESPs before a joint meeting of the budget committee on January 18, 2023.  Robertson led hearings recently to bring attention to the low pensions for school bus drivers, custodians, cafeteria workers, and school maintenance personnel.  He represents Harris, Meriwether, parts of Muscogee, and Troup counities.
New Education and Retirement
Committee Chairs Announced

Legislative Calendar for This Week

After a week of budget committee meetings, members of the General Assembly gathered again today, Monday, January 23, at 10 a.m. for the fifth legislative day of the session.  They will be in session through Thursday, January 26, Day 8.

The Education Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee met briefly Monday, January 23 at 1 p.m. to go over details of Gov. Kemp's adjustments to the current year budget for public education.  Former House Education Committee chair Matt Dubnik, R-Gainesville, is now the chair of the Appropriations Committees Education Subcommittee.  The other members of the subcommittee are:
In addition, the first meeting of the Senate Education and Youth Committee has been announced for Tuesday, January 24 at 2:30 p.m. in Room 450 of the state Capitol.  The meeting can be viewed at: https://vimeo.com/showcase/9027934?autoplay=1

The committee members are:

Sen. Clint Dixon, R-Gwinnett,
Sen. Chuck Payne, R- Dalton - Vice Chair and former committee chair,
Sen. Freddie Powell Sims, D-Dawson,
Sen. Matt Brass, R-Newnan,
Sen. Greg Dolezal, R- Alpharetta,
Sen. Shelly Echols, R-Alto,
Sen. Steve Gooch, R-Dahlonega,
Sen. Sonya Halpern, D-Atlanta,
Sen. Donzella James, D-Atlanta,
Sen. Elena Parent, D-Atlanta,
Sen. Ed Setzler, R-Acworth,
Sen. Shawn Still, R-Norcross, and
Sen. Horacena Tate, D-Atlanta.

GAE Endorses Bill Ritter in Winder-Barrow Special Election 

Based on a recommendation from the Barrow County unit, GAE has endorsed former Barrow County School Board chair Bill Ritter in a special election in State House District 119.  The vacancy in that district will be filled in a special election on Tuesday, January 31.  Seven candidates - six Republicans and one Democrat - are running.

Your Presence, Your Voice Makes a Difference!

Next Legislative Alert will be tomorrow, Tuesday, January 24

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