Kemp: Time for ‘all parties’ to agree on ‘best educational opportunities we can’

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(The Center Square) — Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp is including an additional $1.4 billion in his amended 2024 budget and fiscal year 2025 budget proposals for K-12 education, he said during his State of the State address Thursday.

Including the additional funds, the allocation totals nearly $12.2 billion in state funds in his amended fiscal 2024 budget and nearly $13.3 billion in state taxpayer money for fiscal 2025.

“Republicans and Democrats alike have supported this record investment in our students, and I want to take a moment and thank all of you for that strong, bipartisan achievement,” Kemp said, according to his prepared remarks. “It’s also important for us to remember that increased funding does not always guarantee greater success.

“As a small business owner for almost forty years now, I believe — like many of you — that competition and the free market drive innovation and, at the end of the day, result in a better product for the consumer,” the governor added. “When it comes to education, the same principles hold true.”

Saying “we have run out of ‘next years,'” the governor called on lawmakers to advance a solution that provides Georgia students with the best education possible.

“Some prefer the term school choice or educational freedom, some call them vouchers,” Kemp said. “In my opinion, what each of those terms or slogans fail to mention is the child. At the end of the day, our first and foremost consideration should be the future of that student.

“I firmly believe we can take an all-of-the-above approach to education… whether it’s public, private, homeschooling, charter, or otherwise,” the governor added. “It is time for all parties to get around a table and agree on the best path forward to provide our kids the best educational opportunities we can — because that’s what we were elected to do.”

The proposal was praised by organizations supporting improved choice in education.

“Every kid in Georgia deserves the opportunity to learn in an environment that meets their unique needs,” Marcus D. San Marino, government affairs director of yes. every kid, said in a statement. “Whether that is public, private, home, or a combination, all families should be empowered to help their children succeed. We applaud the governor for recognizing the power of education to change lives, and we look forward to working with him to unleash the extraordinary potential of all Georgia students by delivering education freedom this year.”

State School Superintendent Richard Woods also praised the increased funding for schools.

“Governor Kemp’s FY25 budget proposal includes raises for Georgia’s hardworking teachers, $205 million for school transportation, and $104 million to ensure school safety,” Woods said in a statement about the governor’s fiscal 2025 proposal.

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