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Ga. Capitol roundup: House panel narrowly approves school voucher bill

Published: Feb. 25, 2021 at 2:49 PM EST
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ATLANTA (AP) — More than 4,000 Georgia students could get state money to attend private schools or be home-schooled next year under a measure passed Thursday by the House Education Committee.

The committee voted 12-10 for House Bill 60, which would create educational savings accounts that parents could direct for learning-related purposes.

Students would get about $5,700 on average, but amounts would vary per school district.

Republican Rep, Wes Cantrell of Woodstock says a new program is needed to reach other children “at the margins” that may have needs not being met by public schools.

Opponents say the money would drain needed funds from public schools.

The bill moves to the full House for more debate.

Georgia Senate moves to streamline probation termination

Georgia’s state Senate has passed a bill that would streamline the process people can use to get off probation for good behavior. State Sen. Brian Strickland, a Republican from McDonough, is the chief sponsor of Senate Bill 105. Strickland said that Georgia continues to have the nation’s highest number of people on probation despite criminal justice reform efforts undertaken in recent years. The proposal passed by a vote of 53-0 and heads to the state House for more debate. Currently, there are three pathways for people in Georgia to have their probation terminated for good behavior. But Strickland said the pathways are complicated and have had a limited impact.

House GOP resumes tax-cut push as Georgia finances rebound

House Speaker David Ralston is backing a $100-million-plus state income tax cut. It’s one sign of a rebound in state finances even as government and school budgets have yet to be fully restored to health. House Bill 593 would raise the amount of money that someone could earn before starting to pay state income taxes. The standard deduction for an individual would rise from $4,600 to $5,400, while the standard deduction for a married couple filing jointly would rise from $6,000 to $7,100. The change would allow Georgians to save up to $75 a year, although many would save less. If approved, it would begin in 2022.

Standoff set as Atlanta mayor won’t accept veto override

The Atlanta City Council overrode Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ veto of a plan to give part of a street to the state government. But Bottoms is refusing to accept the action, setting up a legal standoff. Council Member Michael Bond said he had worked out a deal to let the state close the block of Mitchell Street to enhance security between the state Capitol and a legislative office building in exchange for sidewalk and safety improvements along a state-owned road. But Bottoms rejected the move, saying it was illegal for Bond to negotiate on behalf of the city. The council overrode that veto. Then Bottoms last week signed an order calling the council’s ordinance “void and unenforceable” under the Georgia Constitution.

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