This morning House Appropriations met to discuss the FY21 Budget. (tracking sheet)  The outcome of the discussions for K-12 education were a $1000 certified earned teacher raise, 5% raise for transportation and school nutrition personnel, and 2% increase for school nurses.  Twenty-five million dollars was added to fully fund counselors at a ratio of 1:450.  Remember this is the House version which is different from the Governor’s recommendations.  This still has to go to the Senate for them to take a swipe at the FY21 budget.  I do believe this budget is closer to the one that will ultimately be the final budget.   We are not there yet but we are getting very close.

TAX CUT: The individual income tax rate dropped from 5.75% to 5.375%. No more graduated tax brackets as this appears to be a flat tax but a GA Income Tax Credit for working families was also included. An adoption tax credit is now $6000 up from the proposed $2000.  The tax relief is around $250 million.

SB 386 is the Special Education voucher bill that was passed out of Senate Education and Youth Committee.   This version passed is still poorly written especially the section trying to explain who will be eligible through the 504 plan as it is developed for the student. This bill will be on the Senate floor tomorrow March 10, 2020.   GSSA sent out an alert this earlier afternoon. Please take a moment to contact the Senator in your representing your local area.

Update: There is a fiscal note developed by OPB. Fiscal note SB 386 

It shows an estimated cost of the voucher only based on estimated numbers of who will take advantage of the voucher.

There is still zero accountability even though some politicians mistake reporting of information as accountability.

No accountability with services to student. No financial accountability. Private school has no requirement to be accountable in these two areas.

504 students are not IDEA students. It is being sold as a special education expansion.  Just not accurate. There is a faux limit in the bill on 504 students. It is much easier to qualify as a 504 student than an IDEA student. It allows the parents to petition the state board of education for a condition not on the list. So, reality it is wide open for a student qualifying as a 504 with this proposed voucher process.

The full QBE earnings from the state will be used in this voucher.  The state sends the local district the QBE earnings  minus the five mill deduction. Might be considered inequitable.

Politicians do not blink at the current costs of voucher programs in place to provide “choice”.

-Student scholarship tax credits used as voucher is currently at the $100 million level.

-Current Special needs voucher program implemented in 2007, last school year cost the state over $30 million.

-SB 386 will obviously increase the cost of what the state will be adding to the voucher/choice cost. (we just dont know by how much)

The 27th legislative day is tomorrow March 10, 2020.

GSSA will be providing daily reports the remainder of the session.

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