Tuesday, February 03, 2009

How Republicans Govern Georgia

Georgia Republicans can't find the money to protect a progressive tax cut for every Georgia homeowner:

Legislative leaders are finalizing a plan that would essentially force cities, counties and school boards to make a choice in the upcoming fiscal year: cut spending or raise property taxes.

Legislation filed earlier this week would make it unlikely the state will fund the $428 million property tax grant this fall. The grant would only be funded in the future in good economic times.

But they can find the money to subsidize prep schools:

The bill from Sen. Eric Johnson (R-Savannah) would allot parents about $5,000 in taxpayer money to use toward private school tuition. . .

"Basically, it’s a bait and switch," state Senate Minority Leader Robert Brown (D-Macon) said. "It really doesn’t address the problems in public schools. What you have to do is fund them more adequately."

Under Johnson’s proposal, students who want to switch schools would have to qualify for admission at the new campus first and their parents would have to provide transportation, Johnson said. He estimated about 5 percent of parents would use the vouchers.

Some public school advocates said the new voucher bill is unreasonable considering that school systems face about $275 million in cuts next year.

"It is ludicrous to be trying to divert resources from our public schools," said Tim Callahan, spokesman for the Professional Association of Georgia Educators, an advocacy group with about 75,000 members. "How much more battered down and beaten can they get?"