Rep. John Carson, R - Marietta, sponsored the bill that lifts the cap on annual contributions to a tax-credit scholarship program for private schools. ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM

Georgia lawmakers increase funding for charter and private schools

Two bills that emerged from this year’s legislative session will steer more money into alternatives to traditional public schools.

House Bill 787 raises the per-pupil allotment for state charter schools, and House Bill 217 lifts the cap on annual contributions to a tax-credit scholarship program for private schools.

The 2018 Georgia legislative session is now in the books as the clock hit midnight or slightly passed it on the 40th day. The day — known as Sine Die — usually features grueling debates, dealmaking and occasionally some shenanigans.

HB 217, by Rep. John Carson, R-Marietta, had passed both chambers of the legislature during last year’s legislative session, but the chambers disagreed on the final day of that year’s session over how much to raise the cap from the current $58 million. The House of Representatives wanted $100 million and the Senate wanted $65 million.

Nothing happened in public on the bill this year until the last day of the session, on Thursday, when a conference committee comprising members of the House and Senate unveiled their compromise bill. It quickly passed both chambers, setting the cap at $100 million for the next decade. After that, it drops back to $58 million.

Lawmakers on Thursday also increased funding for state charter schools.

Local charter schools and traditional public schools get money from both the state and from their local tax base, but State Charter Commission Schools only get money from the state.

The commission money comes in two streams, one equivalent to what the state gives local schools and the other a kind of stand-in for the local dollars.

HB 787, by Rep. Scott Hilton, R-Peachtree Corners, increases the local stand-in dollars.

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