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Perdue vetoes bill to help military kids switch schools
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Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue vetoed 17 bills Wednesday, including one that would have made it easier for children of military personnel to transfer between new schools.
The governor nixed Senate Bill 345, a measure calling on the state to adopt the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children, saying the legislation is "an abdication and unconstitutional binding of the Legislature's powers of appropriation."
"Senate Bill 345 mandates Georgia's participation in the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children, which would assess unspecified fees on Georgia to be appropriated by the General Assembly. Should the General Assembly fail to appropriate the undetermined amount, the proposed compact would subject the state of Georgia to a lawsuit to recover funds," Perdue wrote in his veto message. "I cannot support a self-perpetuating financial obligation imposed on Georgia taxpayers."
The bill was part of an ongoing, nationwide effort to support the ICEOMC, which seeks to ease the burdensome process faced by many members of the armed forces when enrolling their children into new schools.
The aim of the compact is to keep children of military parents on track with their coursework when transferring between schools by reducing the difficulty of transferring records and variations in enrollment, graduation and testing requirements among school districts.
States receiving military transfers would accept temporary transcripts for class placement until official records are received, as well as enroll and provide a short grace period to students who do not meet local vaccination requirements.
Membership in academic societies such as the National Beta Club would be honored and state-specific exit exams required for high school graduation could be waived or substituted for tests taken in another state.
The agreement would also make it easier for non-custodial guardians or relatives of military students to enroll them in school and allow military children extra excused absences to be with parents home on leave.
More than 20 states are considering the interstate agreement this year, but only Arizona, Kansas and Kentucky have approved the measure thus far. At least 10 states must ratify the compact in order for it to become effective.
Although Georgia lawmakers, who unanimously passed the measure in the House and Senate, had their wishes thwarted by Perdue, Senate President Pro Tempore Eric Johnson (R-Savannah) is hopes legislators can get the measure approved in 2009.
He said in working to get the compact signed next year, lawmakers will have to do a better job of outlining what he said would be a "minimal" dent in the state's budget.
"I hope that we can provide the governor with more detailed costs next year," Johnson said, "and convince him to sign this important legislation that benefits military families."
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