Originally created 06/02/06

School vouchers lack support



ATLANTA - Vouchers for private-school tuition face too many political hurdles to be passed by the Georgia General Assembly, according to Senate President Pro Tem Eric Johnson.

Instead, tax credits for parents who pay tuition on their own might pass in the Legislature, the Savannah Republican said in remarks Thursday before the Georgia Public Policy Foundation.

But the leader of the Senate Democrats, Sen. Robert Brown of Macon, says tax credits are just as objectionable to his followers as vouchers.

Mr. Johnson was outlining a broad agenda for the coming legislative session in January, assuming the GOP retains control of the Senate as most observers expect. He said education would be a major concern but that support for vouchers never materialized from the groups Republicans courted, namely suburbanites and inner-city residents dissatisfied with their local public schools.

"Vouchers are politically off the table," he said.

When asked by an audience member about alternatives, Mr. Johnson suggested tax credits as more viable.

"The argument for tax credits is someone already has a child in private school and is already paying for it," he said.

A tax credit would allow parents to reduce what they owe on their state income taxes by an amount based on the tuition paid.

Mr. Brown dismissed the proposal as soon as he heard about it.

"The issue is not whether you are pulling anybody out of public school," he said. "The issue is whether you are pulling resources out of the system."