Sen. Mike Dugan, R-Carrollton, is the new majority leader in the Georgia Senate. JASON GETZ
Photo: Jason Getz / AJC/
Photo: Jason Getz / AJC/

Conservatives vent after Ga. private school funding bill fails

Senate Democrats and a handful of Republican colleagues allied on Tuesday to defeat a measure to use taxpayer funding to send public school students to private schools. 

What infuriated some of the supporters is that two of the chamber’s top Republicans helped ensure its loss.

The first is Senate President pro tem Butch Miller of Gainesville, who voted against it. He declined to comment. 

The second is Majority Leader Mike Dugan of Carrollton, one of three Republicans who didn’t vote. He blamed a function at City Hall. Also not voting: State Sen. Jeff Mullis of Chickamauga, leader of the agenda-setting Rules Committee. 

They weren’t the only Republicans to break party lines. Jack Hill of Reidsville, who voted for the measure in committee, opposed it on the floor. Other Republican “no” votes include Tyler Harper of Ocilla, Greg Kirk of Americus, Ellis Black of Valdosta and Dean Burke of Bainbridge. 

The backlash was immediate. Erick Erickson railed against the “no” votes on WSB Radio. And Cole Muzio of the conservative Family Policy Alliance said the vote sent a message that the “political pressure of the public institutions outweighed the interests of Georgia children.” 

There’s a chance the bill could be voted on again on Thursday’s crossover deadline. It has the full backing of Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan and Gov. Brian Kemp. But it’s unlikely. 

It failed 25-28, meaning that it needs to gain at least four votes. Some supporters are reluctant to back it a second time, feeling the heat from public school advocates. 

Insider’s note: This item was ripped from the Daily Jolt. 

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About the Author

Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.