Apr 23, 2024 - News

Kemp signs school voucher bill into law

An apple wrapped in $100 bills

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed a controversial school voucher bill into law on Tuesday that will allow some parents to use tax dollars to enroll their children in private schools.

Zoom in: The Georgia Promise Scholarship Act provides a $6,500 voucher per year to parents to help cover the cost of enrolling their children in participating private schools.

  • Students have to be enrolled for one year in schools ranked among the lowest performing in the state.
  • A parent's income can't exceed 400% of the federal poverty level, or around $120,000 for a family of four.

What they're saying: Kemp said the "best gift we can give our next generation is a quality education that opens the doors for new opportunities."

  • He also said the state recently passed other measures "to ensure parents play a leading role in their child's education because we know it's not the government's role to dictate to families what the best choice is for their child."
  • "It is our job to support them in making that decision," he said.

The other side: David Schaefer, vice president of research and policy for the left-leaning Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, said the bill takes "crucial public money away from public K-12 schools."

  • He also said vouchers are generally used by parents in wealthier counties near urban areas and that they are unpopular with Georgia voters.

The big picture: School vouchers have become a hot topic in legislatures across the South.

  • Lawmakers in North Carolina last year expanded a program that would be open to parents of all income levels.
  • In Tennessee, Gov. Bill Lee's push to expand vouchers statewide did not gain traction.
  • A voucher proposal in Texas failed to get enough votes to pass in 2023.
  • The first phase of Arkansas' voucher program was implemented in August 2023.
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