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DeKalb CEO Michael Thurmond on Georgia’s labor department, its work-for-Medicaid plan and a possible gubernatorial bid
Michael Thurmond’s work in welfare reform and workforce development has arguably made him the go-to turnaround expert when it comes to fixing government agencies and social programs here and abroad.
In 1994, he was tapped by then-Gov. Zell Miller to transform the culture and operations of Georgia’s Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS). He created the Work First program, which helped more than 90,000 welfare-dependent families move into the Georgia workforce.
As labor commissioner, Thurmond, 70, oversaw a 4,000-employee agency that served via a statewide network of offices he promptly restyled into career centers, doing away with the old-guard term “unemployment office.” As labor commissioner, he was summoned to England to give his advice on workforce development. Other states regularly sought his advice.
During his two years as DeKalb County schools interim superintendent, Thurmond repaired the district’s finances and kept the school system from losing its accreditation while improving student academics and graduation rates.
And when Georgia transformed from a blue to red state in the early- to mid-2000s, Thurmond was the only statewide Democrat to survive the Republican tsunami.
Now as CEO of DeKalb County — the only county in the state with an elected chief executive independent from the legislative branch — Thurmond has a unique perspective on a variety of state-level challenges.
State Affairs caught up with Thurmond, the son of an Athens-area sharecropper as well as a noted historian and author, to ask him about the current state of the labor department, Georgia’s work-for-Medicaid plan and a possible gubernatorial run.
The conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
You started your career as an attorney. How did you get into politics and the public service arena?
There was some research I had done on Black history in Athens right after I graduated from [Paine] college [in Augusta]. I ran across a thesis on Antebellum and postbellum Athens. We had two formerly enslaved Black men who had run and been elected to the Georgia House of Representatives during Reconstruction. Their names were Alfred Richardson and Madison Davis. I had no idea they even existed or that Black men had represented Athens. On the way home from the library that day in 1975, I told my sister that I would be the next Black man to be elected to the Legislature from Athens. Eleven years and three campaigns later, I was finally elected in 1986.
The Labor Department seems to be struggling with delayed unemployment benefits and antiquated systems and policies, among other criticisms. The new labor commissioner, Bruce Thompson, has vowed to address the department’s problems. What needs to be done to fix it?
The Labor Department I served as commissioner bears little resemblance to the Labor Department today. It’s a shadow of its former self. It's just been disassembled. I wish Commissioner Thompson well but I do believe the governor and the Legislature will have to step in and really help to address or reconfigure or reorganize what is now the Georgia Department of Labor. Commissioner Thompson won’t be able to do it. He can obviously improve customer service and some other things but he’s not going to be able to address it by himself. I can just tell you what I know internally: There has to be some external legislative changes made.
You were the architect behind Georgia’s successful Welfare-to-Work program in the 1990s. In July, the state will launch a program that will require eligible Georgians in need of Medicaid health care coverage to work, go to school or volunteer at least 80 hours a month to qualify for coverage. Can a work requirement for medical coverage work?
Each state was able to create its own welfare program. We called ours Work First. Between 1994 and 1997, we successfully transitioned 90,000 DFCS families off of welfare to work.
What we really had was welfare reform without the means. What I learned at DFCS transitioned to the Department of Labor. People need support services. Just to say “Go work” sounds like a good idea but unless you're willing to create systems and resources that support that, it’s going to fail miserably.
So what we did for welfare reform is we provided transitional Medicaid, transportation assistance. People who wanted to work but didn’t have the skill sets, we contracted with the Department of Technical and Adult Education.
We found that roughly 25%, particularly of the women who were receiving public assistance, had undiagnosed or untreated disabilities. So their employment [situation] was not due to them not wanting to work, or even not just having the skills. They had disabilities that hadn't been either detected or diagnosed and or treated. So it's more holistic.
That’s one of the challenges to public service. We want to have one solution that will solve everything and that’s just not true. You have to look at it in a broad context where you look at the nuances that have to be addressed and that fuel success. Our welfare tool was very successful.
If you want to encourage work, you have to address the issues: transportation, training, the basic things. You assume people have resumes. They don’t. It’s almost impossible to get a job if you don’t have a resume. So resume writing and interview skills … Will that be a holistic approach or is that just a political narrative without any real expectation that you will have a major impact on helping people?
Number one, find work and number two, access Medicaid. The economy — if the Federal Reserve is successful — is going into a recession. So that will mean fewer jobs, not more. So how will this strategy compensate for the fact that we're sailing right into the teeth, according to some economists, of a recession?
Can requiring volunteerism, schooling or employment work, then?
It depends on how it's structured. I've always supported encouraging work. Work has value that extends beyond a paycheck. There’s dignity in work but I also recognize that there must be serious, engaged support and a system to help people who may have been disconnected from the workforce who may not have the skill set or the knowledge or the expertise. There has to be a support mechanism.
Georgia has at least a $6 billion surplus. What should be done with that money?
It obviously needs to be invested in the residents of Georgia to help improve the quality of life, with a particular focus on those who are living at the margins of our society. Metro Atlanta has the worst economic mobility in America. There’s a high probability that if you’re born poor you’ll die poor. If you live in metro Atlanta, that needs to change. I couldn’t think of a better way to invest that money than to break that cycle of poverty, to help people, particularly children, elevate themselves, prepare themselves for a world where they can support themselves and their families and escape the cycle of poverty.
It seems, however, that the focus — at least in the governor’s recent State of the State address — is going to be more on rural areas.
They’re very similar. Just look at census tracts and the pathologies that are impacting rural Georgia. They’re the same ones that have an impact in some urban areas. Oftentimes, poverty is exported from rural to suburban or urban areas. So if you look at it, not just geographically, but the problem themselves that poor families in DeKalb, in some census tracts are having the same problem that rural citizens are having. I grew up poor in rural Georgia. I get it.
At one point you had considered running for governor. Is that still a possibility?
I'm just trying to finish these two years as DeKalb CEO. I'm going into my 70th year and one of the things [I want to do] is just finish strong. The future will take care of itself.
So is that a yes or no?
(He chuckles). I gotta stay focused. DeKalb is no joke. I've enjoyed being the CEO of DeKalb. We've made a tremendous amount of progress. I just want to close the deal and think about tomorrow tomorrow.
Looking back on your career, is there anything you would do differently?
Enjoy life more early on, when I was getting started. I was just so afraid that I was going to fail. My friends, family members and others have encouraged me to kind of smell the roses a little bit. So now that I’m on the back end of this, they were probably right. I could have enjoyed life a little bit more, travel more and some things that I like, but I didn’t. So I tell my daughter that now. She’s got my psychological profile. But I encourage her to enjoy life a little more while she’s young and can truly benefit from it.
What led to your decision to write books on Georgia history? What is the biggest takeaway from the two books you’ve written so far?
Well, my dad bought a set of encyclopedias back in the early 60s and that was just like having a computer in a house. We didn't have the other conveniences but we had a set of encyclopedias. My favorite one was the letter G for Georgia. I just started reading and it was just one or two things about Black people in the G for Georgia [volume]. So it just began there. I love Georgia history.
The most important takeaway is that we should not paint history with a broad brush, particularly as it relates to the era of slavery, after enslaved Blacks along with white and Native American allies fought valiantly and courageously against the system of chattel slavery. What’s not told is that thousands earned their freedom successfully during that period of enslavement in Georgia.
You’re working on another book. What is it about?
It’s an extension of research. I’m generally interested in the founding of Georgia, 1733 to 1865. This book looks more closely at James Oglethorpe, the father of Georgia, and how his relationship with formerly enslaved Black men helped to shape the prehistory of the abolitionist movement.
If confined to your home for a week, what food would be a must-have?
My wife Zola’s peach cobbler. She makes it from scratch. It’s not written down.
The Michael Thurmond File
- Title: CEO of DeKalb County
- Age: 70
- Birthplace: Athens, Ga.
- Residence: Stone Mountain
- Education: Graduated cum laude with a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy and religion, 1975, Paine College; graduated from University of South Carolina Law School, 1978; completed the Political Executives Program at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
- Career: Attorney; became the first Black since Reconstruction to be elected to the Georgia General Assembly from Clarke County, 1986; selected by then-Gov. Zell Miller to head the state’s transition from welfare to work, 1994; became a distinguished lecturer at the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government, 1997; elected Georgia labor commissioner, 1998; superintendent of DeKalb County Schools, 2013-2015; elected CEO of DeKalb County, 2016.
- Hobbies: Writing and researching.
- Accomplishments: Written two books: “A Story Untold: Black Men and Women in Athens History” and “Freedom: Georgia’s Anti-Slavery Heritage 1733-1865.”
- Family: Married to Zola; one daughter, Mikaya
- What job would you want to be doing other than your current one: I’d be president of Paine College in Augusta.
You can reach Tammy Joyner on Twitter @lvjoyner or at [email protected]. Joyner is State Affairs’ senior investigative reporter in Georgia. A Georgia transplant, she has lived in the Peach State for nearly 29 years.
Header image: DeKalb CEO Michael Thurmond (Credit: Tammy Joyner)
In this election year and constant social media bemoaning of the cost of groceries and other consumer items, legislators are working on several tax measures to return money to Georgia taxpayers.
Here’s what the bills would do if they pass in both chambers and the governor signs them.
The House of Representatives passed three bills to provide income and property tax breaks to Georgians, all of which are now under consideration in the Senate:
- HB 1015 cuts the state income tax for individuals to 5.39% from 5.49%, retroactive to Jan. 1. The bill would accelerate a graduated tax drop that already started, per a 2022 law, at a top tax rate of 5.75%, which is planned to decrease to 4.99% by 2029. At the time, House Ways and Means Chair Shaw Blackmon, R-Bonaire, said the cuts, once fully implemented, would save a family of four with an income of $75,000 about $650 per year.
If the Senate and governor approve the new bill, Georgia residents who earned $58,000 in 2024 would save another $34 in annual income tax, according to a Georgia Budget & Policy Institute analysis. Those earning $105,000 would save an additional $72, and those earning $183,000 would save $128, according to the institute.
|GEORGIA 2024 INCOME TAX RATE CUTS
|Enacted and Proposed
|Estimated Annual Savings from Tax Rate Cuts
|From 5.75% to 5.49% (Enacted)
|From 5.49% to 5.39% (Proposed)
|Top 1% ($1.87 Million)
|Note: Both tax rate cuts are planned to be effective Jan. 1, 2024.
The state is expected to collect $1.1 billion less in income tax revenues this year if the latest tax rollback is approved.
- HB 1021 increases the state income tax deduction for each child or dependent (including an elder parent) to $4,000 from $3,000. The Georgia Budget & Policy Institute estimated that families will save about $54 per dependent per year through this tax exemption if implemented in fiscal year 2025, which begins July 1, 2024.
The change would cost the state about $152 million in revenues in fiscal year 2025.
- HB 1019 increases the homestead exemption on the assessed value of an owner-occupied home to $4,000 from $2,000. Bill sponsor Rep. Matt Reeves, R-Duluth, noted that tax bills vary according to the assessed value and local tax rates and said that average savings to homeowners in his Gwinnett County district would be about $100.
Meanwhile, the Senate passed a competing bill that would prohibit local governments from raising home property assessments more than 3% a year. Senate Bill 349, sponsored by Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, is now under consideration in the House.
Both bills to change how residential property taxes are calculated would require a majority two-thirds vote in both chambers and voter approval through a state referendum in November.
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Bills to track illegal immigrants, oust squatters, boost film industry make the cut on Crossover Day
A controversial religious freedom bill cleared the Senate Thursday despite heavy criticism from some lawmakers who said the bill would open “the floodgates to discrimination” against the LGBTQ+ community.
Senate Bill 180 was among dozens of bills Thursday that will now face another round of discussions and debates in the opposite chamber. SB 180 now heads to the House.
It’s part of the Georgia legislature’s midsession ritual known as “Crossover Day,” the last chance for bills to pass at least one chamber in the General Assembly. A succession of bills underwent rapid-fire discussion, debate and votes throughout the day.
Here’s a look at some of the bills that have made it across on Leap Day and a few that emerged as wildcards.
What happened in the House
COURTS and PUBLIC SAFETY
- HB 1105, the “Georgia Criminal Alien Track and Report Act,” would require Georgia law enforcement to work with federal immigration officials in reporting and, in some cases, detaining suspected illegal immigrants who have been charged with crimes. Failure of sheriffs and other law enforcement agencies to comply with the law could result in the loss of state and federal funds, and misdemeanor charges.
- Rep. Jesse Petrea, R-Savannah, the lead sponsor, said the bill does not target all foreign nationals but focuses on those who commit crimes. The bill gained steam in the House this week following the death of nursing student Laken Riley in Athens allegedly at the hands of a Venezuelan immigrant who entered the country illegally. During a 1.5-hour debate, the bill was vehemently opposed by many Democrats, who said it would terrorize undocumented immigrants and unfairly defund the police.
- Rep. Sam Park, the House minority whip, said the bill “won’t promote public safety, but it will lead to discrimination against people of certain ethnic backgrounds.” Rep. Pedro “Pete” Marin, D-Duluth, said it’s “yet another attempt to politicize fear and hatred. It is tempting during an election cycle to target immigrants to score political points.” Rep. Houston Gaines, R-Athens, said, “Fixing policy in the face of unspeakable tragedy is not politics.” The bill passed 97-74.
- HB 1017, also known as the “Squatter Reform Act,” makes it easier to remove an intruder from private property, charge squatters with criminal penalties and issue them fines. Sponsor Devan Seabaugh, R-Marietta, said, “There are no more free homes in Georgia. If you are currently in a home you don’t belong in, leave now.” It passed 167-0.
WORKFORCE and ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
- Several bills related to occupational licensing reform have moved through the House. HB 839 creates an interstate compact agreement to allow social workers and massage therapists licensed in Georgia or any of the several states in the compact to practice in those states without having to obtain a new license. HB 1190 requires professional licensing boards housed in the Secretary of State’s office to review and issue licenses to professionals who meet requirements within 60 days of application. If that doesn’t happen, the license must be issued by the office immediately after the 60-day point.
- After 12 years of trying, Rep. Al Williams, D-Midway, persuaded his colleagues to pass HB 349, a bill to allow mobile barbering. Williams said the bill “lets Georgia move into the 21st century. Poodles have been able to get mobile service. You can buy food of any description, get a tooth pulled, get an x-ray, give blood on a mobile truck. And finally, Georgia, for those of you who still need it, you can get a haircut.” The bill passed 165-1.
- After passionate debate, lawmakers voted 131-34 to pass HB 1180, which makes changes to Georgia’s Film Tax Credit, providing tax breaks to the state’s $1.9 billion film industry. The bill limits the state’s total annual obligation on film tax credits to $900 million, keeps a minimum investment by film businesses at $500,000 to qualify for the credit, and adds some new incentives to earn a 10% higher credit amount, including filming outside of metro Atlanta and using Georgia musicians, crews, studios and postproduction houses.
- HB 1125 phases out payments below the minimum wage to people with disabilities. Rep. Sharon Cooper said some programs that hire the disabled have been operating “like sweatshops,” offering pay as low as 22 cents per hour. It passed 160-0.
- HB 583 allows cottage food industry businesses to sell their products via third-party vendors such as restaurants and grocery stores instead of just direct to consumers. Rep. Leesa Hagan, R-Lyons, said it allows people “to see if their business is viable before putting a lot of investment in a commercial kitchen.” The bill passed 166-1.
- HB 1146 allows the Environmental Protection Division to issue water permits to private companies in areas where no public water service can be provided. It was prompted by problems providing water to the massive Hyundai electric vehicle plant near Savannah and workforce housing under construction in the counties around it. Many lawmakers expressed concerns over allowing private companies to control access to water and what it will cost communities over time. The bill passed 105-58.
- HB 1341 makes wild Georgia white shrimp the state’s official crustacean. The bill passed 171-0.
- HR 780, which would put the question on the ballot to amend the Georgia Constitution to allow only U.S. citizens to vote in Georgia elections, received a vote of 98-61 and failed to pass because it didn’t receive a two-thirds majority vote required for a constitutional amendment.
- HB 1335, sponsored by Rep. John LaHood, R-Valdosta, sets up a medical emergency alert system and requires a minimal level of staffing in senior care facilities, including personal care homes, assisted living communities and memory care centers.
- The House passed HB 1410, which creates the Stable Housing Accountability Program, a voluntary program to help homeless people with addiction issues to secure stable housing while participating in programs that help them “get back on their feet, be gainfully employed and self-sufficient,” said Rep. Chuck Efstration, R-Auburn. It will be funded by the State Housing Trust Fund for the Homeless and private sources.
- HB 1361, an unusual hybrid bill, creates the offense of criminal trespass for entering the cage of a wild animal and creates a criminal offense for distributing obscene material depicting a child using computer or artificial intelligence technology. It passed 164-1.
What happened in the Senate
- SB 395 authorizes schools to have opioid antagonists such as Narcan on hand so they’re readily available for teachers and others to treat fentanyl overdoses at school. Currently, only nurses can administer opioid antagonists, and sometimes schools are understaffed. The bill passed 54-0.
- After a lengthy debate, the controversial SB 390 — which prohibits the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia and certain libraries from using taxpayer or privately donated money on any materials services or operations offered by the American Library Association — passed by substitute by a 33-20 vote.
- SB 198, which creates the Georgians With Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Innovation Commission, passed 50-2. It has five years to complete its work.
- There are 40,000 incidents of domestic violence each year. Senators passed SB 407, which would require documenting certain information in incidents of family violence. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Donzella James, D-Atlanta, passed 52-1.
WORKFORCE and ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
- SB 460, which revises the number of advanced practice registered nurses and physician assistants a doctor can supervise at any one time, passed 40-11. Sen. Bo Hatchett, R-Cornelia, said the bill will help rural hospitals “survive in the current medical climate.”
- SB 480, which would repay student loans for mental health and substance use professionals serving in certain capacities, passed 44-1.”
- SB 420, prohibiting foreign investors from buying agricultural land or land near military bases, passed 41-11 . The bill also would make it a felony for investors to purchase farmland if they have ties to any countries considered adversarial by the Department of Commerce.
- SB 180, known as the “Georgia Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” is intended to protect people’s religious rights from state and local government intervention, but critics say it will lead to greater problems for the gay community.
- SB 542 — which allows the public the right to use all navigable streams for passage on boats, including kayaks and canoes, and for hunting or fishing — passed 51-0. It does not allow for passersby to recreate on private property along such streams.
Other key bills that have already crossed over this session:
- HB 1339 changes Certificate of Need regulations and determines where and how new hospitals and medical facilities can be built.
- HB 881 provides standards of conduct and rules governing the Prosecuting Attorneys Qualifications Commission, which is empowered to oversee, discipline and remove state prosecutors.
- HB 1037 creates the Georgia Commission on Maternal and Infant Health.
- SB 465, also known as “Austin’s Law,” would charge anyone who illegally sells or distributes fentanyl that results in an overdose death with aggravated involuntary manslaughter, a felony.
- SB 421 is an anti-swatting measure that would make it a felony to make fake or unlawful calls or requests for emergency services.
- SR 155 creates the Senate Truck Driver Shortages Study Committee.
Why it matters
It’s a somewhat frenzied process, but the flurry of activity at the Capitol on Thursday sets the course for how lawmakers want to govern the state going forward. It’s a time when laws and policies are introduced or updated.
That said, it’s ultimately supposed to make the lives of Georgia’s 10 million-plus residents easier.
All of the bills that crossed over to the other chamber will be assigned to committees in the House or Senate. Lawmakers have until March 28, the last day of this legislative session, to consider, discuss, debate and vote on these bills.
This story has been updated to reflect the final legislative action on Crossover Day.
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As the General Assembly prepares to put its stamp on the fiscal year 2025 budget proposed by Gov. Brian Kemp, school transportation officials and education advocates are praising, some a bit warily, the governor’s large and long-awaited increase to student transportation funding.
Two decades of continuous disinvestment by the state in the cost of transporting students to and from school has left many school districts with aging bus fleets and insufficient funds to hire and retain bus drivers.
Following a series of State Affairs stories charting the plight of children stuck with poor transportation, Kemp proposed in late January doubling the state’s share of the student transportation budget in 2025 with an additional $210 million for busing operations and $20 million for 227 new buses.
“It’s huge, extremely huge,” said Pat Schofill, assistant superintendent of operations for Jackson County Schools, who was director of pupil transportation for the state Department of Education from 2016 to 2022.
“What these funds are going to do for a growing system like Jackson County is significant,” he said. “Where we’re now getting $1 million for pupil transportation, the state will provide maybe $2 million of our $11 million budget. This will allow us to invest in salaries for bus drivers and technicians, training initiatives and upgrades to buses like GPS technologies, seat belts and other safety features.”
Better yet, Schofill said, the extra state funds “will allow us and many other districts to offset some of our local funds on initiatives we’ve been trying to work on,” such as building new schools and hiring more teachers and mental health counselors.
“When we heard the numbers they were tossing around, we were excited,” said Jason Ayers, transportation director for Barrow County Schools. “But we know we have to wait and see what the actual allocation looks like.”
Still, Ayers and his team are already looking at hiring more staff and increasing pay for bus drivers and bus mechanics, who both start at about $16 an hour, hoping that more competitive salaries will help to fill some long-standing vacancies.
“The reason you don’t have anybody applying for transportation departments is because they can go other places and make more money,” he said. “Anything that moves the needle on helping us to compete with trucking companies and bigger school districts is a big deal.”
Ayers said about 60 buses in his fleet of 200 are 15 or more years old, the age when most buses are considered beyond their useful life. With new buses costing about $120,000 each, “you make that bus last as long as you can. But then there comes the point where it’s just so old it’s not even practical to fix it anymore. We’ve got a lot of ground to gain with upgrading our fleet. This new funding will allow us to invest in infrastructure and operations across the board.”
Richmond County school bus driver Yolanda Brown told State Affairs last year that buses are plagued with mechanical problems and regularly break down, causing students to arrive late to school. Some miss out on breakfast as well as their first-period classes.
Brown said the problems still exist and the district still has 40 vacancies among its 176 driver positions, and many drivers have to do double routes on crowded buses. “Frustrations are running high” among drivers, students and parents, she said.
But Brown, who is president of the Transport Workers Union Local 239 of the AFL-CIO in Augusta, said she’s cautiously optimistic about the influx of new funding the governor has proposed.
“It’s a good thing he’s doing,” she said. “I’m a little concerned about how the funds will reach the local level, but I think it will filter down.” She said the district’s chief financial officer and superintendent “are finally looking at revamping employee pay,” which for bus drivers starts at $14.06 an hour. “Hopefully that will slow down the constant turnover we have.”
Paul Abbott, senior director of transportation for Richmond County schools, is more positive about the future.
“It’s going to be a boon for us,” he said. “We don’t know the dollar amount yet and exactly what it will allow us to do, but we’re planning to give a nice bump on starting pay, which is what we’ve needed to get people in the door.”
Why it matters
Until the mid-1990s, the state, which by law is required to support the cost of transporting kids to public schools, covered about half of school districts’ total cost for student transportation. But over the years, Georgia’s investment has steadily dropped — amounting to about 17% of the total $1.1 billion cost in 2023.
This drop has put a strain on many school districts, which have had to cut other educational expenditures to keep bus operations going. And many districts have not been able to find enough funds to maintain bus fleets adequately and pay personnel a livable wage. Many career bus drivers and mechanics have quit or retired, and schools are finding them hard to replace.
Kemp’s proposed fiscal year 2025 budget would cover about 31% of school districts’ total costs for transportation. And instead of a one-time grant, Kemp’s move to put transportation funds in the education formula funding part of the budget signals “that schools can count on this level of funding every single year,” said Stephen Owens, education director at the Georgia Budget & Policy Institute.
“This will do real good in schools, to have these funds baked into the budget,” Owens said. “If the General Assembly approves it … this will be a huge jump in formula funding that will allow school districts to plan on not only to replace school buses, pay bus drivers and bus monitors a better wage, and make sure that we have safer buses on the road, [but] … they can recommit the funds that they’ve been taking from other areas of school to support instruction in other ways.”
While “this is an incredible step forward,” Owens said, “if we treat this like the last thing we needed to do to support schools, in four years we’re going to be right back in this position where we have a similar amount of underfunding for school districts.” Owens estimated the total cost of student transportation for school districts increases about $200 million every four years.
“So this can’t be a one-and-done,” he said. “It needs to be a regular part of the way the General Assembly moves towards fairness between districts and the state. There’s still a wide gap until we get to true parity.”
House and Senate leaders have expressed strong support for Kemp’s proposed fiscal year 2025 budget, which includes $1.4 billion in new education spending. Besides the increase in student transportation, the education budget includes raises for teachers and new funding for school security measures and expanding pre-K programs.
Over the next month, budget writers in the House and then the Senate will review and propose changes to the 2025 budget. The changes must be approved in both chambers and then submitted to the governor by March 28, the last day of the legislative session. The governor will then sign or veto the bill. He can also choose to reject certain line items within the budget. Georgia’s fiscal year 2025 begins July 1, 2024.
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It’s do-or-die week at the Capitol as lawmakers race to get bills to the finish line if they’re to become law. Crossover Day, which happens this Thursday, is the last day a bill can clear its originating chamber and move to the other chamber for consideration. A bill introduced in the Senate must pass the …