The aftermath of crossover day is always a good time to slow your thoughts and scan the landscape of what bills moved and the ones that did not get the necessary attention needed to be included on the floor of the chamber. GSSA will focus on the bills that either are moving or have potential to move due to the political momentum. One of the significant bills that passed both chambers was the AFY23 budget. It is on tot he Governor’s desk.
Here are the AFY23 budget highlights: AFY23 Budget Tracking doc
$50 million to assist with the increase of State Health Benefit Plan for non-certified employer side of the equation. They also agreed on a two year phase-in of $500 increase to the employer contribution that will be effective January 1, 2024. Which works out to an increase of $250 per year increase. Then for the third year it will be $133 beginning January 1, 2026, to reach the $1580 DCH is requesting. (p.26 of tracking doc- SHBP)
GNETS will be moved to the QBE formula FY25. Although not the preferred solution due to costly therapeutics necessary for these students, this is notice for all to prepare for the funding shift. GADOE was directed to work with statewide stakeholders to provide recommendations to to OPB and the House Budget Office, Senate Budget Office by September 30, 2023. (p. 37 of tracking doc – GNETs)
Security grants came back to earth at $50,000 per school. Flexibility remains for local school districts.
$5 million addressing Para Professionals and their desire to move into teaching. These are reimbursable grants for those enrolled after January 1, 2023, to earn certification through GATAPP.
$3.3 million for construction equipment for industry certification for Career Technology (p. 40 – equipment for industry certification)
Decent Amended budget for K-12 with the QBE formula receiving increases for increased enrollment and T & E. I expect this budget to be signed this week by the Governor so be ready for the State DOE to communicate the process for accessing the dollars.
Here are key Ed bills that passed:
SB 204 Sen. Greg Dolezal Accreditation -Addressing new criteria and standards for education accrediting agencies.
SB 211 Sen. Billy Hickman Literacy – Creates a Georgia Council on Literacy with 24 members.
SB 233 – Sen. Greg Dolezal Voucher -Georgia Promise Scholarship Act,(voucher) Creates an education saving account at $6,000 per student per year to attend a private school. The amendment to assist it across the Senate floor limits the eligibility to students to the lower 25% of the lowest performing schools. The bill passed 33-23 along party lines.
SB 4 Sen. Gail Davenport – Braille – Blind persons Braille Literacy Rights and Education Act.
SB 45 – Sen. Jason Anavitarte Seizure Plans– Schools to develop action plans around epilepsy/seizures.
HB 101 Rep. Bruce Williamson – Increase the cap on Student Scholarship Organization donations which provides a dollar for dollar tax credit to donor. Back door voucher. The amount increases by $10 million dollars from $120 million o $130 million. This is an example of how the legislature returns to a bill and expands it reach.
HB 504 Rep. Matt Hatchett – Freeport level 1 exemptions to be removed when calculating the local five mill share. This would be recalculated each year to assess benefit districts.
HB 340 Rep. John Corbett – This provides a daily duty free planning period for K-12 teachers under certain circumstances. Student and staff safety will come first and can impact this under certain circumstances.
HB 538 – Rep. Bethany Ballard – Georgia Early Literacy Act – A bill that has gotten a lot of attention and refreshingly we are focused on student learning more specifically reading. It is a science evidenced- based literacy approach, screening ,and training based on multiple deadlines. There is still some work that needs to be done on verbiage to clear up some of the concerns around cost and some over prescribed requirements.
Overall crossover day was long but less damaging then its potential. Many bills of concern were not brought to the floor of either chamber. Although that is good news, the opportunity for some of those bills could resurrect themselves by finding a related bill to attach to and still pass out of this session. That is why we watch very carefully and lobby to keep the bad policy off the floors. GSSA appreciates your continued advocacy to support K-12 Education in Georgia. We remain in the battle and thank you for standing with us. It truly makes a difference!
Day 29 is today with very limited activity but day 30 on Wednesday should pick up where we left off….. I do know HB 147 the Governor’s School Safety legislation will be heard today in Senate Ed and Youth. Our REPORT continues tomorrow. Have a good day!