March 2, 2020

Legislative Session
Day 22
Report Snapshot

Senate Committee Approves Amended FY 2020 Budget

Senate Ed Holds College & Career Academies & School Impact Fee Legislation, Passes Whole Child Bill 

Referendum on Daylight Saving Time Passes Senate





Upcoming Schedule

Tuesday, March 3 – Legislative Day 23

House Academic Achievement, 2:30 p.m., 514 CLOB

House Academic Support, 3 p.m., 514 CLOB

Wednesday, March 4 – Legislative Day 24

Senate Education & Youth, 8 a.m., 310 CLOB

Senate Education & Youth, 2 p.m., 307 CLOB

Senate Retirement, 4 p.m., MEZZ 1

Thursday, March 5 – Legislative Day 25
Senate Committee Approves Amended FY 2020 Budget

Highlights:

  • Senate Appropriations Committee approves revisions to the state’s current budget, including a four percent cut as directed by Gov. Brian Kemp.

  • K-12 funding formula is fully funded but other education programs are cut.

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved changes to the state’s current budget, which are outlined in the  Amended Fiscal Year 2020  (AFY 2020) budget. Most of the changes reflect four percent cuts to state agencies ordered by Gov. Kemp. The cuts were triggered by a decline in state revenue, which are partly due to an income tax cut the General Assembly passed in 2018. The K-12 funding formula, the Quality Basic Education formula (QBE), is exempt from the cuts, but other programs operated by the Georgia Department of Education are not. Programs slated for cuts include:

  • Business and Finance Administration

  • Communities in Schools

  • Curriculum Development

  • Equipment Grants for Career, Agricultural and Technical Education

  • Information Technology

  • School Improvement 

  • Testing

Cuts are also planned for Regional Educational Services Agencies (RESAs) but by less than the amount Kemp initially proposed. His AFY 2020 budget outlined $582,720 in cuts to RESAs, but legislators restored $282,720 of those funds. 

Budgets of other education agencies—including the Department of Early Care and Learning, the Professional Standards Commission, and the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement—are also in line for cuts. State agencies have begun implementing the cuts. 

The AFY 2020 budget, as described in  HB 792 , must be approved by the full Senate. That vote will likely happen this week. Following passage by the Senate, a conference committee with members from both chambers will be convened to resolve differences. 

More information on the AFY 2020 budget as well as the Fiscal Year 2021 budget and a new income tax cut proposal, which could further reduce state revenue, is available from the PAGE legislative team in this  budget report

-Claire Suggs

Senate Ed Holds College & Career Academies & School Impact Fee Legislation, Passes Whole Child Bill  

Highlights 

  • Senate committee passes additional high school graduation rate definition, whole child codification, and school recycling encouragement. 

  • Committee holds bill regarding attendance of home school and private school students at College & Career Academies and legislation allowing for the levy of school impact fees. 

  • Chair announces committee meeting Wednesday, March 4, at 8 a.m. to discuss school voucher expansion, SB 386.  

The Senate Education and Youth Committee passed the following three bills this afternoon; all three now move to Senate Rules. 

SR 810 , by Sen. Jeff Mullis (R- Chickamauga), a non-binding resolution urging school districts to establish and maintain a recycling program in grades K-12. 

SB 431 , by Sen. John Wilkinson (R-Toccoa), provides for the definition of “on-time graduation rate” as the graduation rate of the four-year cohort of students who attend a school continuously from Oct. 1 of the calendar year four years prior to the calendar year of the regular date of graduation of that cohort. Gretchen Walton, representing Cobb County schools, which asked Wilkinson to sponsor the measure, explained that the proposed graduation measure is not intended to supplant any federal or state graduation definition or mandate. She held that the additional definition provides a more accurate measure of student graduation in schools with high student transiency. 

The version of  SB 102  by Sen. Emanuel Jones (D-Decatur) approved in committee today revamps the legislation Jones introduced in 2019. The bill codifies Whole Child work underway at the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE). The committee amended the legislation this afternoon, removing references to related GaDOE grant programs. 

The committee held the following legislation after discussion:

SB 430 , by Sen. William Ligon (R-Brunswick), would allow home school or private school students to enroll in College and Career Academies (CCA), as space allows. When presenting the bill, Ligon said he was approached by a CCA in his district that requested the legislation. After a lengthy committee discussion and public testimony suggesting local school districts can already opt to allow private and home school students in enroll in CCAs, the legislation was held for more work. 

SR 776  and  SB 404 , both sponsored by Sen. Greg Dolezal (R-Cumming), constitute a package of companion bills, including a proposed constitutional amendment allowing voters to decide whether local boards of education can levy development impact fees. SB 404 would only apply to several high-growth school districts such as Forsyth County, which Dolezal represents, and Buford City Schools. When presenting the bill, Dolezal explained his intention to allow local communities experiencing explosive school growth to levy school impact fees on new homes. Several Forsyth residents, including a local school board member and former educator in the district, spoke in support of the bill. Angela Palm from the Georgia School Boards Association (GSBA) also testified in support. A lobbyist representing homebuilders testified in opposition, citing increased costs to new homebuyers, particularly low-income buyers. The committee held the bill for further discussion. 

As the meeting concluded, committee chair P.K. Martin (R-Lawrenceville) announced that SB 386, a controversial private school voucher expansion opposed by PAGE, will be heard by the committee at 8 a.m. this Wednesday, March 4. 

-Margaret Ciccarelli

Referendum on Daylight Saving Time Passes Senate

The Senate passed a non-binding resolution allowing Georgia voters to have their say regarding whether the state should continue to observe both Standard Time and Daylight Saving Time or permanently switch to one or the other.  SB 351  is sponsored by Sen. Ben Watson (R-Savannah) and mirrors House legislation, which PAGE recently testified in support of, sharing educator concerns regarding the educational impact of the time change. More from the AJC  HERE

-Margaret Ciccarelli

Claire Suggs
Senior Education Policy Analyst
csuggs@pageinc.org
Josh Stephens
Legislative Affairs Specialist
jstephens@pageinc.org
Margaret Ciccarelli
Director of Legislative Services
mciccarelli@pageinc.org