The Senate GOP Caucus Passed The Promise Scholarship Account Bill. Will They Be Left Hanging Out To Dry?

On Thursday the House moved to table SB 233, the Promise Scholarship Account bill. Five Republicans were not on the Floor of the House for various reasons, and on a bill with a tight margin, that matters.

Democrats took to twitter to rejoice and proclaim the GOP doesn’t have the votes.

Whether McLaurin and the other Democratic Legislators who celebrated the tabling of the bill are correct remains to be seen.

After all, a version of this bill has been active every year since 2015. I was in the Legislature then, and proud to have co-sponsored and fought for that bill. You might think guys like me who have been fighting for this legislation all this time are crazy, stupid, or too dumb to know when to quit. However, what we knew back in 2015 has proven to be true today: Promise Scholarship Accounts are the innovation parents need, and they are more popular than ever.

While Georgia was tabling its bill, Florida Legislators sent to Governor DeSantis’ desk a universal education savings account bill, becoming the 6th state in the past two years to pass such a bill. West Virginia, Arizona, Iowa, Utah, and Arkansas have all passed versions of the Promise Scholarship Account and Texas is poised to follow suit within days. It’s safe to say that ESAs or what we call Promise Scholarship Accounts are all the rage in Republican circles these days. Why should Georgia voters be left behind?

In May of 2022, Republican primary voters were asked “Education is the largest line item in the state budget. Should education dollars follow the student to the school that best fits their need, whether it is a public, private, magnet, charter, virtual, or homeschool?”

79% of Republicans agreed with that statement. You can look up your county’s results here.

A poll in February of 2023 conducted for GA CAN, showed that 73% of all voters in metro-Atlanta and 72% of voters outside metro-Atlanta support school choice. Specifically 68% of those in metro Atlanta, and 60% of those outside of metro-Atlanta support education savings accounts, or what SB 233 calls Promise Scholarship Accounts.

If you think February was too long ago, read this from yesterday’s Wall Street Journal:

A recent Morning Consult poll for EdChoice found that 78% of parents of school-age children in Georgia support ESAs.

For the first time ever, the Governor of Georgia expressed public support for the Promise Scholarship Account bill:

On March 6th the Promise Scholarship Account bill passed the Georgia Senate. Every single Republican Senator voted in favor of the bill. Yes, even the rural Senators voted for it despite being told by their School Superintendents to vote against it. House members have all the political cover they need to vote for this bill. Don’t leave those Senators standing alone.

I know what it’s like to be pressured by your School Superintendent. In February of 2012, as we were poised to vote on the constitutional amendment re-creating charter schools in Georgia, I received a letter from my Superintendent. He urged me to vote no and warned that I would suffer “severe electoral consequences” if I didn’t heed his warning. I voted yes and faced no opposition on the ballot that fall. Legislators need to remember there are many more parents in their districts than Superintendents.

Those of us in this fight have made all the arguments, and answered all the claims. If you want, you can rewatch Thursday night’s debate on SB 233. We’ve shown over and over that voters want this legislation to pass. It’s time for Georgia House Republicans to stand with their Senate counterparts and with their Governor, and pass SB 233.

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