(Daily Caller) – Approximately 16 Georgia House Republicans voted down a piece of school choice legislation on Wednesday that would have given taxpayer funds to students outside of the public school education system.
In a 89-85 vote, the state House killed Senate Bill 233, which would have given state funded vouchers up to $6,500 to students pursuing a private or homeschool education. Republican Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp endorsed the legislation after it passed the Senate on March 6, urging state lawmakers to “get this over the finish line,” according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“We do not need another choice of private schools and as for cost we don’t have an estimate,” Democratic state Rep. Becky Evans told the Atlanta Voice. “We know it’s according to what we’re going to provide in the budget. But I’ve heard some of my colleagues talk about ‘oh, I think it’ll only be 500 students.’ And I’m like, ‘I’m having a very hard time believing that because there are 550 eligible schools.’ So 500 students times six up gets to 3,000,250. But we have examples from these other states where they’re spending $200 million, $240 million.”
Under the legislation, students at schools ranked in the lowest 25% of academic performance for two years in a row would be eligible for the vouchers. Families could spend the funds on private school tuition, physical or speech therapy, education materials and college course fees.
The state currently gives taxpayer-funded vouchers to special education students attending private school, according to The Associated Press.
“And really was very paradoxical to me as a lot of the impact from 233 impacted some areas that folks were logged down on it, they would not vote for it,” Republican state House Speaker Jon Burns told the Atlanta Voice. “They were not considered the proponents of the tenements of the bill and the positive parts of it that impacted communities all over this state. We wanted to see where people were. We wanted to give them a chance to express their thoughts.”
Throughout the country, several state lawmakers are enacting school choice legislation; on March 8, Republican Arkansas Gov. Sarah Sanders signed a piece of legislation into law creating a universal school choice program by the 2025-2026 school year. Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a piece of legislation into law on March 27 creating a universal school choice program.
Evans, Burns and Beverly did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.