Due to these dire economic times we must make cuts in every area of the state budget, but let me assure you that education is of the utmost importance to me and the Republican leadership.
The state dedicates up to 43 percent of its' general fund on public education (K-12), an invaluable resource for our children to get the best possible start in life. Realizing that teachers are a key element in the success of our students, teacher pay is always at the forefront of budget considerations.
"We must work to maintain the pay of our teachers to ensure that we attract and retain the best educators" Cooper said.
The base salary and benefits for Georgia educators has gone up 40% in the last decade. Georgia teacher salaries now rank the highest in the southeast, and teacher compensation ranks first nationally when adjusted for retirement and cost of living, even taking into account the 1.5% temporary salary reduction from furloughs. This 1.5% temporary reduction Does Not affect the teacher's retirement calculation.
Several bills have been introduced this session that are designed to ease the strain on Georgia's local school systems. HB 908 is the bill that gives the expenditure controls back to the local school systems for the next three years. HB 905 is another bill that assists local school systems; it provides funding for low-wealth, exceptional growth school systems. HB 977 prohibits state funds to provide pay raises for superintendents and administrators during years when local school boards give furloughs to teachers and other staff.
We will continue to work hard for education at the General Assembly because there is nothing more important than the children of Georgia.