June 1, 2020

General Assembly Set to Reconvene in Mid-June: Update on PAGE Advocacy
and the Budget

Hitting Go at the Gold Dome

The 2020 legislative session came to an abrupt halt on March 13 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving much work undone. Lawmakers will return later this month to set the state budget for Fiscal Year 2021 (FY 2021), which must pass by June 30. Their approach to the budget is particularly vital this year given steep declines in state revenues . Deep cuts across education agencies are expected as well as all other state agencies, including child-serving and health agencies. The PAGE legislative team is monitoring developments closely and engaging lawmakers on the importance of maintaining a strong financial investment in Georgia’s students and educators. The PAGE team is also tracking other education bills that lawmakers may take up when they return to the Capitol.
QBE Formula on the Chopping Block

Legislative budget writers directed all state agencies to set their FY 2021 budgets by cutting 14 percent from their FY 2020 spending plans. If this cut is approved, $1.3 billion will be slashed from the Quality Basic Education (QBE) formula, the state’s primary source of funding for public schools. The pre-kindergarten program is slated for a cut of about $53 million if lawmakers move forward with the full reduction. This would lead to the loss of 4,000 student slots across the state and a 10 percent pay cut for teachers. A detailed dive into the budgets that education agencies submitted to the Senate Education Appropriations Committee is available from PAGE here.
Unfinished Business

Multiple education-related bills remain eligible for passage into law when the General Assembly reconvenes including legislation directed to teacher retirement, teacher evaluations, assessments, private school vouchers and more. A recap of these bills is available here and here . With the focus on the budget, it is uncertain which of these bills, if any, will move forward.
PAGE Advocacy

The PAGE legislative team is highlighting the importance of robust state investment in public education to state lawmakers and the need to mitigate harm done by possible spending cuts. Students and educators cannot afford a return to austerity cuts, which topped $1 billion annually for many years and diminished learning opportunities. The PAGE team is also engaging members of Georgia’s congressional delegation to call for additional federal funds to help fill the gaps created by falling state revenue and ensure that student needs are appropriately met.
 
Sign up for the PAGE Capitol Report to stay up-to-date on the latest developments. You will receive news from the General Assembly as well as updates on the State Board of Education, the Teacher Retirement System, the Georgia Professional Standards Commission, and the State Health Benefit Plan. You will also have opportunities to engage policymakers. Your voice and your knowledge matter!
Budget Cut Impact Survey

Please check the email inbox associated with your PAGE membership account later this week for an important survey opportunity. The PAGE team wants to tap your experiences, knowledge and perspectives regarding proposed state budget cuts through a short survey, which will open later this week. It is the first in a series of short PAGE member surveys about key education issues including school funding and reopening schools.
Serving You as You Serve Others

Thank you for your continued dedication to Georgia’s children and families. And thank you for your membership and trust in your Professional Association of Georgia Educators. Our attorneys, lobbyists, member services representatives, and full staff are here to serve you as you serve others. Please contact us at any time should you have questions, concerns, or need assistance: 770-216-8555.

Claire Suggs
Senior Education Policy Analyst
Josh Stephens
Legislative Affairs Specialist
Margaret Ciccarelli
Director of Legislative Services