Senate Bill 395 by Hunter Hill, R-Smyrna, got locked up in a committee. Hill (front left) sought to create a state-funded private school scholarship program for the children of military personnel.
Photo: KENT D. JOHNSON / KDJOHNSON@AJC.COM
Photo: KENT D. JOHNSON / KDJOHNSON@AJC.COM

Attempt to expand school “voucher” program fails

An attempt to create a state-funded private school scholarship program for the children of military personnel got a hearing at the Georgia Capitol Monday, and nothing more.

Senate Bill 395 by Hunter Hill, R-Smyrna, got locked up in a committee after the chairman said it would open a “Pandora’s box” by expanding a private school subsidy for the disabled to non-disabled children.

Sen. Lindsey Tippins, chairman of the Education and Youth committee, asked Hill a question they both knew the answer to: “Senator, would you consider being a child of military personnel a disability?”

No, said Hill. “We’re not saying they’re disabled. We’re using it as a vehicle.” His legislation would have appended “Junior GI Bill” to the Georgia Special Needs Scholarship Act of 2007, which created the state’s only private school “voucher” program.

Tippins, R-Marietta, then pointed to a line in the law that expressly prohibited expansion of the subsidy to children without disabilities.

“The biggest problem I’ve got with this is we’re putting in a new class of students to be treated as students with disabilities that really have no disability,” Tippins said.

Committee member Fran Millar, R-Marietta, liked the idea but wondered about the cost, and told Hill his bill had little chance of becoming law with the legislative session more than half over.

Tippins adjourned the meeting without calling a vote.

Hill has tried to amend this law before. Last year, he signed onto the doomed Senate Bill 187, which tried to open the program to refugees.