June 25, 2020

Legislative Session
Day 39
Report Snapshot

State Budget Compromise Includes $950 Million Cut for K-12

Senate Acts on Testing Reduction & Educator Evaluation Bills; Tables TRS Repayment Bill

Education Bill Becomes Reduce Legislator Pay Cut Bill

House Agrees to HB 993, Sending Child Abuse Registry Elimination to Governor
Upcoming Schedule

Friday, June 26 – Legislative Day 40 (Sine Die )
State Budget Compromise Includes $950 Million Cut for K-12

Highlights:

  • House and Senate budget leaders outline state spending plan that begins on July 1.

  • Funding for most education programs cut by 10 percent.

House and Senate members announced they reached agreement on the state budget for Fiscal Year 2021 today. In the conference committee meeting, Rep. Terry England (R-Auburn), chair of the House Appropriations Committee, reported that the Quality Basic Education (QBE) formula, the primary source of state funding for public schools, is slated to receive $950 million cut. This reduction is lower than originally expected and reflects a smaller loss in state revenue than that estimated by budget writers in May. England also stated that the equalization program, which sends supplemental dollars to low-wealth districts, will be fully funded in FY 2021. Most programs in the Georgia Department of Education’s budget absorb a 10 percent cut, which is the amount cut across state agencies. 

The budget proposal can be found HERE . PAGE will provide more budget details in tomorrow's Day 40 report.

-Claire Suggs
Senate Acts on Testing Reduction & Educator Evaluation Bills; Tables TRS Repayment Bill
 
Highlights:

  • Senate agreed to the House version of SB 367, a testing reduction bill. The bill now awaits Gov. Kemp’s signature.

  • Senate approves bills allowing educator evaluation appeals, fiscal transparency for charter schools, and immediate assessment of foster care students for IEPs.

  • Senate tabled bill that would end USG’s statutory obligation to TRS.

The Senate agreed to the House version of SB 367 , a testing reduction bill sponsored by Senate Education and Youth Chairman P.K. Martin (R-Lawrenceville) and supported by Gov. Brian Kemp. CLICK HERE to read more about the bill. The bill moves to the desk of Gov. Kemp and awaits his signature.

The Senate also approved the following legislation:

  • HB 86 by Rep. Tommy Benton (R-Jefferson), which would require school districts to create an evaluation appeals policy that allows teachers with four years or more of experience with summative evaluation ratings of unsatisfactory or ineffective to receive an evaluation review by an independent third party administrator or administrator designated by local administrators. Districts will have until July 1, 2021, to submit their appeals plans to GaDOE. HB 86 moves to the House for either an agree or disagree vote on the Senate’s changes to the bill.

  • HB 755 by Rep. Dave Belton (R-Buckhead), which would require school districts to provide locally approved charter schools with annual allotment sheets itemizing state, local, and federal allocations for the upcoming school year. The bill moves on to Gov. Kemp for his signature.

  • HB 855 by Rep. Marcus Wiedower (R-Watkinsville), which would allow for the immediate assessment of students who enter foster care to determine if they qualify for an individualized education plan (IEP). The students would continue to be required to qualify for IEPs to receive services, but the process would begin more quickly. Wiedower cited increased transiency rates for foster care students as the need for the bill. The bill was amended on the floor to move the effective date from Jan. 1, 2021, to Aug. 1, 2021. The bill moves back to the House for an agree or disagree vote.

The Senate tabled HB 292 by Rep. Benton, which would remove a statutory requirement that the University System of Georgia (USG) make payment to the Teachers Retirement System (TRS) for participants in USG’s Optional Retirement Plan (ORP), which was created in 1990. A 2019 state audit indicated USG failed to pay TRS approximately $600 million. The payments, which ended at the recommendation of a TRS actuary in 2001, were intended to prevent retiree pension costs from being borne by the state or local school districts. For more, check out the PAGE Capitol Report from Day 6 of the legislative session and the AJC’S report from February. The bill remains eligible to be approved if the Senate removes it from the table.

-Josh Stephens
Education Bill Becomes Reduce Legislator Pay Cut Bill

Highlights:

  • House replaces career academy bill with language that reduces legislator pay

On Wednesday, the House passed SB 416 by Sen. Jeff Mullis (R-Chickamauga). Originally, the bill sought to rename the unit in the technical college system that works with career academies the "Office of College and Career Academies" and to establish a director of the office. However, the House rewrote the bill to institute a 10 percent salary reduction for all members of the General Assembly and a 14 percent salary reduction for the lieutenant governor.

The Senate passed SB 416 on Thursday. The bill moves forward to Gov. Kemp for his signature.

-Josh Stephens
House Agrees to HB 993, Sending Child Abuse Registry Elimination to Governor
 
Highlights:
 
  • Georgia’s current child abuse registry is legally problematic, lacking due process safeguards for educators accused of child abuse.
 
  • Acknowledging that the registry, though well-intended, is problematic, House and Senate agree to abolish it.
 
The House voted to agree with the Senate substitute to HB 933 , sponsored by Rep. Katie Dempsey (R-Rome). The bill eliminates Georgia’s problematic child abuse registry, which lacks procedural safeguards and has been subject to legal challenge. When presenting the Senate substitute on the House floor today, Rep. Dempsey mentioned that other reporting systems will serve the purpose of tracking child abuse. The legislation now moves to the governor for his signature.

-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