The big news in this session had to be the budgets – both the FY18 Amended budget and the FY19 budget. To recap: the FY18 amended budget in addition to enrollment adjustments, added funds for the purchase of 204 school buses across Georgia.
The biggest news of the session is the FY19 budget – especially the surprising and welcomed 11th hour addition of $195 million – approximately $167 million of which eliminated the QBE austerity cut. For the first time since 2002, there is no state-level austerity cut to QBE! Other good news in the FY19 budget is almost $23 million to fund the Children’s Mental Health Commission’s recommendations, funding for even more buses, additional REACH scholarships, child welfare improvements, and more. Voices for Georgia’s Children has a wonderful summary of the FY19 budget as it relates to and impacts Georgia’s children.
THANK YOU to the Governor, Representatives, and Senators for all the positive items in the FY19 budget.
The 2018 session concluded at midnight on Thursday, March 29. The Governor has 40 days to either sign, veto, or do nothing with the bills which passed both chambers. If the Governor does not sign a bill within the next 40 days, then it will automatically become law. Below are some of the bills we were watching which are on their way to the Governor’s desk. Don’t see a bill you were watching? Send us an email and we’ll let you know what happened, or you can look up the bill at the Georgia Legislature’s website: legis.ga.gov. We will send out a final report in mid-May with the final status of the bills.
HB 159– SUPPORT -Comprehensive Adoption Code update – SIGNED BY GOVERNOR
HB 217– OPPOSE– Tax Credits for Student Scholarship Organizations: Raises the cap from $58M to $100M for 10 years and extends the Public Education Innovation Fund by three years
HB 329 Started as HB 327– regarding TAVT (vehicle ad valorem taxes). This is with respect to how used car sales taxes/ad valorem taxes are divided between state and local government entities. The split will be 65% local and 35% to state; of the 65% of the local, school systems receive 49%. Check with your district to see what, if any impact this change might have; for some districts it will be a gain, others might see a loss.
HB 657– SUPPORT – Makes it a felony to knowingly and intentionally providing a firearm to someone on probation as a felony first offender
HB740 – SUPPORT – Requires specific testing for students in K-3 before the student can be given more than 5 days of out-of-school suspension.
HB763 – This bill started as a requirement for attendance protocol committees consider school climate. Language from other bills was added on in the final days. The bill now has $16M bond for school safety, and language from SB457 requiring the practice of GEMA/FEMA drills. It also makes school safety plans exempt from Open Records laws.
HB787– includes SB405 – This was the big news bill in the final hours of the session. Initially, HB 787 changed the finding formula for state charter commission schools. A fiscal note reported that it would cost $17M to fund. The legislation also permits state charter commission schools to join RESAs. Upon leaving the Senate Education and Youth Committee, the bill had been heavily amended, including adding language from SB405 – creating a needs-based grant program for postsecondary students. HB787 was amended on the Senate floor, returning it to the original language from the House and keeping SB405.
SB401 – Bridge Bill -original language was about including student aptitude and interest test results when creating a graduation plan. Final version includes HB762– age-appropriate sexual assault awareness education for students in grades K-9. Also puts GOSA over dual enrollment and requires a review of school counselors and their roles across the state.
HB 918– State Income Tax Cuts – SIGNED by GOVERNOR
SB 3 – Creating Opportunities Needed Now to Expand Credentialed Training (CONNECT) Act – provides opportunities for students to graduate if they earn certain industry credentials or associates degrees.
SB 118– changes the age limit for insurance coverage of autism spectrum disorders from 6 to 21