Rep. Judson Hill (R-east Cobb) and Sen. Lindsey Tippins (R-west Cobb) said their focus will be balancing the state budget.
“The mounting costs and mandates for government health care programs like Medicare and Obamacare coupled with the fiscal uncertainty at the federal level make it very challenging for the governor to estimate state revenues and may delay our ability to create a state budget until at least late February or March,” Hill said.
He also plans to sponsor measures to address the challenges of transportation and healthcare.
Tippins agreed with Hill on the budget woes.
“Because of the economy, (unemployment and Medicaid) funding continues to pull away the majority of the funding for the state,” he said. “The dilemma is that with all of those funds, there is a legitimate need and the question is how you meet them.”
Funding for public education makes up another large portion of the state budget and with the passage of the House Resolution 1162 in November, which allows the state to create a State Charter School Commission, Tippins said he thinks it could make that funding burden worse.
Tippins said the dilemma is that with the nearly $5 billion in austerity cuts to public education since 2003, the state is already not fully funding education so how are they going to be able to fund students that the state is going to have to pay twice for.
According to House Bill 797, which was approved last spring by legislators and outlines the details of the charter amendment, state-approved schools would receive more than $7,000 per student and public schools would continue to receive roughly $4,000 per student in funding from the state.
“I think there will be a lot of details that have to be worked out in moving forward as far as how the mechanism will function or where the money will come from,” Tippins said. “I fear it will come out of the limited resources that are already funding public education.”
However, Rep. Alisha T. Morgan (D-Austell), who co-sponsored the resolution and has not expressed concerns over funding the amendment, said she’s hoping passage of the amendment will continue to open new doors in terms of education policy in a “bi-partisan fashion.”
“I think the votes for the amendment were very clear and diverse across the state … that’s how education policy should pass,” she said.
In moving forward, Morgan anticipates the passage of House Resolution 1162 lighting the way for things like teacher evaluations in regards to working with Race to the Top initiative.
“The goal is to have the most successful teachers in the classroom, giving teachers what they need to be effective and treating them as the professionals that they are,” she said. “I think it will be a heavy lift but we’ll be able to do what’s in the best interest of our kids.”
House Bill 797 also states that members of the State Charter School Commission will be appointed by the governor, president of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives and that these appointments must be made no later than February 2013.
Each member will serve two-year terms; however, three members will initially serve one-year terms to stagger appointments.
They will not be compensated but will receive per diem. Additionally, each member should have at least a bachelor’s degree and the group should be diverse. Their first meeting will be no later than March 1.