A proposed constitutional amendment that would allow the state government to set up charter schools at the local level and require local school boards to provide funding for those schools failed to receive the required two-thirds vote of approval in the House of Representatives on Feb. 8.
HR 1162 fell 10 votes short of the 120 votes needed for the legislation to move on to the Senate for consideration. Sponsors of the resolution have indicated they will seek to have it reconsidered in the House later this session. The legislation was written in response to a recent decision by Supreme Court of Georgia to strike down the use of “special schools” as a method of authorizing state charter schools.
While I support taking steps for the limited purpose of authorizing charter schools, I voted against HR 1162 because of its potential for diverting local tax dollars from existing public schools toward any type of “special school” the state creates or designates. Local funding decisions should be made by the elected school board members in those communities rather than being usurped by the state government, which already has cut more than $1 billion from local school funding in recent years.
A better alternative is HR 1335, which would protect charter schools without expanding the size of government or limiting local control, thus preserving the right of local citizens to have a say in the education of their children and the spending of their tax dollars.
The House voted to approve HB 642, which would abolish the State Properties Commission and the State Personnel Administration and transfer their functions to a newly created Georgia Services Administration, which also would replace the Department of Administrative services. The action is part of Gov. Nathan Deal’s plan to consolidate several state agencies to save money in the budget.
The Georgia Legislative Black Caucus has unveiled a legislative package designed to remove the disparity of those who pay into the HOPE Scholarship, HOPE Grant and Zell Miller Scholarship programs and those who receive those educational grants. Recent reports and findings show that low-income and minority populations disproportionately provide the resources that generate the HOPE scholarships and grant programs, while those of greater means are the grant recipients. GLBC is offering four bills aimed at collecting better demographic information, adding an income cap for HOPE grantees, changing the GPA requirements for HOPE scholars attending private and public schools, and realigning the distribution of HOPE scholarships and grants throughout the state.
House Democrats held a public hearing Feb. 6 to discuss Deal’s proposed state budget. Alan Essig, executive director of Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, presented an analysis of the proposed budget.
“For the first time in several years, there are no dramatic cuts in the governor’s budget recommendations,” Essig said. “However, even with moderate revenue growth, Georgia faces a structural deficit. In fact, Gov. Deal projects a $319 million deficit in fiscal year 2014 ... ”
Williams, D-Midway, represents District 165 in the Georgia House of Representatives. Contact him at 511 Coverdell Legislative Office Building, Atlanta, GA 30334; by phone at 404-656-6372; or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.