Georgia House passes school choice measure a year after killing bill

(The Center Square) – The Georgia House of Representatives on Thursday passed a measure that would allow Georgia families to use state-funded education savings accounts for private school or other education-related uses.

Lawmakers passed Senate Bill 233, the Georgia Promise Scholarship Act, by a 91-82 margin, a year after killing the measure.

Under the measure, taxpayers would cover the cost of scholarships up to $6,500 per student per school year, allowing families to use the money to defray “qualified” education costs, such as private school tuition.

“We are pleased to see the Georgia House of Representatives take a significant step toward empowering Georgia’s families to choose the education that best fits the needs of each child in our state,” Kyle Wingfield, president and CEO of Georgia Public Policy Foundation, said in a statement to The Center Square.

“If fully funded, the initial implementation of Georgia Promise Scholarships could serve almost 22,000 students – immediately making it the largest private choice program in our state,” Wingfield added. “We look forward to final passage of Senate Bill 233 and the implementation of this vital new program, so that Georgians can see for themselves the benefits of ensuring every child gets the quality education needed to unlock their full, God-given potential.”

The move follows recent remarks Republican Gov. Brian Kemp made, including during his State of the State address, calling on lawmakers to advance a solution that provides Georgia students with the best education possible and after Senate Republicans reaffirmed their commitment to the measure earlier this year. Education advocates have also called on lawmakers to advance measures that help students succeed.

“We are going to empower our parents to make the best educational decisions for their children and give them the tools to succeed for generations to come,” House Speaker Jon Burns, R-Newington, said on X, formerly Twitter.

While Georgia Republicans lauded the move, Peach State Democrats assailed it.

“Our lowest performing schools are in dire need of funding. To avoid this crisis and defund public schools is a slap in the face to hardworking Georgia families and children,” state Rep. Phil Olaleye, D-Atlanta, said in a post to X. “We won’t be fooled. Public funds must remain in public schools. NO to voucher schemes.”

Stacey Abrams, who lost to Kemp twice in gubernatorial races, said on X the measure “could divert crucial funds from public schools, affecting their future.”