Georgia – Governor Brian Kemp urged Georgia’s legislators on Thursday to approve a bill for private school vouchers. This topic, which regularly comes up in the legislature, has not yet been successfully passed through the General Assembly.
“I believe we have run out of ‘next years,’” Kemp said during his annual State of the State address to a joint session of the Georgia House and Senate.
“I firmly believe we can take an all-of-the-above approach to education, whether it’s public, private, homeschooling, charter or otherwise. 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.”
Last year, the Senate approved a bill to give Georgia students in underperforming schools $6,000 scholarships. These scholarships could be used for private schooling or other educational expenses. However, the proposal didn’t pass in the House.
Democrats and some Republicans oppose the idea
This happened because Democrats and some rural Republicans couldn’t agree on it. Democrats think these scholarships, or vouchers, reduce funding for public schools. Rural Republicans worry because there aren’t many private schools in their areas, so the vouchers wouldn’t be much use to their communities.
During a speech that lasted 34 minutes, Governor Kemp talked about new spending plans totaling over $2 billion. This spending is possible because of an unusually large budget surplus. Kemp had already mentioned these plans before, like at a breakfast event and in previous press meetings. The plans include things like speeding up a tax cut, higher salaries for state workers and teachers, $104 million for making schools safer, and adding $205 million for mental health services.
Kemp, who might run for the U.S. Senate in 2026, also spent a part of his speech comparing the state government in Georgia to the less effective federal government.
“Congress has become synonymous with runaway spending, bloated budgets, job-killing regulations, gridlock and partisanship, and elected representatives in both parties who are more interested in getting famous on cable news than delivering results for the American people,” he said.
“I promised to put hardworking Georgians first, fund our priorities like education, public safety, and health care, but also keep government efficient, responsible, and accountable.”
Democrats bring Medicare in the focus again
Following Governor Kemp’s speech, Democratic lawmakers in the legislature promised to keep opposing the voucher system. They criticized Kemp for not fully supporting the expansion of Medicaid in Georgia. Discussions about expanding Medicaid have been happening, but Kemp, along with previous Republican leaders, has resisted this expansion. In his speech, Kemp didn’t talk about Medicaid.
Representative Billy Mitchell, a Democrat and leader of the House Democratic Caucus, accused Kemp of using his political influence to hinder Medicaid expansion and reduce funding for public schools.
While Kemp was finishing his speech, his budget office announced a mid-year budget request of $37.5 billion and a budget plan of $36.1 billion for the 2025 fiscal year. Next week, the budget committees in the legislature will meet for three days to go over these budget proposals.