Georgia Republican Gov. Brian Kemp put his support behind a measure to expand funding for private school vouchers after the legislation passed the state Senate.
Kemp endorsed Senate Bill 233 on Monday. It was the first time he publicly backed the legislative effort to expand school choice in the Peach State. The bill would provide a $6,500 annual voucher for students’ education.
In an interview Monday with Atlanta radio host Erick Erickson, the governor said the legislation was a “good bill” and called on House lawmakers to pass the bill before the legislative session ends on Wednesday.
“I’m hopeful that we can get this over the finish line,” Kemp said. “I think they’ve really done a good job of legislating. They’ve also listened to a lot of the critics that are out there and taken some of their suggestions about accountability and other things.”
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“It’s just got to get the votes in the House, and I feel like they’ll be able to do that,” he continued.
The governor also joined the closed-door Georgia House GOP caucus meeting on Tuesday to give what one attendee said was his “full-throated support” for the legislation to expand funding for private school vouchers, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The governor had largely taken a behind-the-scenes approach with the state Legislature since his reelection, opting to stay quiet about his stance on pieces of legislation. But Monday’s endorsement of Senate Bill 233 just ahead of the end of the legislative session could signal he is looking to be more aggressive to advance the measure.
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A group of lawmakers, consisting of mostly Republicans, backed a measure this year to give each student a $6,500 voucher to spend on a private or home school education to expand families’ educational options beyond public schools.
The state would deduct public schools’ funding for each student that takes their education dollars elsewhere.
Opponents of the bill say the vouchers would hurt local public school systems needing additional funding, particularly those in poorer communities.
Last year, a similar $6,000 private school voucher proposal failed to pass.
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But this year’s measure has gained momentum as it has already passed the Senate with a 33-23 vote earlier this month and is now in the hands of House lawmakers. Both chambers have Republican majorities.
The proposal stalled in the House last week but could get another vote before the legislative session ends on Wednesday.
“We’re going to continue to remain vigilant and be strong supporters of choice in education,” Kemp said.