March 31, 2017
Dear GOAL Supporters,
The Georgia Senate failed to pass HB 217 last evening, the final day of the 2017 legislative session. The Education Expense Credit program remains unchanged from its current form.
The following is a recap of the actions taken by the Georgia General Assembly, including the events of yesterday:
- February 2: Rep. John Carson introduced HB 217 to increase the cap to $150 million, with an escalator to reach $180 million over time, and the 'rollover' of any unfunded (expired) credits, and an overall cap of 20% to be used by C corporations.
- February 28: The House passed the bill to increase the cap to $65 million in 2018, with a 10% escalator to reach $100 million over time, and the 'rollover' of any unfunded (expired) credits, and an overall cap of 25% to be used by C corporations.
- March 20: The Senate passed a 'committee substitute' version of the bill, removing the escalator for any increase beyond $65 million, removing a cap for C corporations, and including the 'poison pill' of 3% administrative fees for SSOs.
- Day 40, March 30 at about 3:30 pm: The House passed an amendment to the Senate committee substitute, providing for caps of $65 million in 2018, $75 million in 2019, $85 million in 2020, and raising fees from the 3%, but reducing them from current statutory levels, to arrive at an overall effective fee of approximately 6.5%. This amendment was a compromise that reached the mid-point between the original House position and the Senate position.
- Day 40, March 30 at about 11:30 pm: Senate rejected the House amendment.
While the outcome is disappointing, together, we put forward a comprehensive effort to advocate for expansion of the program this year. We engaged lobbyists who proved to be passionate and relentless in their efforts on our behalf. Another welcome change is that the different 'camps' within the school choice community came together and mutually supported this legislative effort. Most importantly, we actually did change some hearts and minds in the House.
- Previous assertions from members of the House that no cap increase would be considered without a reduction in the tax credit percentage were reversed.
- Acknowledgement that this program saves the state money was expressed from those in significant leadership positions in the House.
Our heartfelt thanks to Representative John Carson, who sponsored this effort with passion and unfailing energy.
Our deepest appreciation to those of you who steadfastly and articulately informed your state legislators about the value of this program and encouraged them to expand it.
We cannot adequately express how much your support and engagement has meant over these past weeks.
Lisa M. Kelly
Georgia GOAL Scholarship Program, Inc.