ATLANTA – The next battle brewing in Georgia is the failing schools amendment, even though some believe Governor Nathan Deal may have lost some of his political capital when he vetoed the religious liberty bill.
“Folks on both sides are sharpening their arguments to do battle on it,” said Rep. Buzz Brockway, a Republican from Lawrenceville.
Deal is expected to use his political pull to get voters to approve the Opportunity School District (OSD) Amendment on the November ballot.
Observers expect the fight to be similar to the 2012 Charter Schools Amendment fight, which involved lots of money spent on both sides to try to sway voters. In the end, the constitutional amendment passed.
“We want the voters to know that the opportunity school district has nothing to do with opportunity,” said Rita Scott with the Communications Workers of America.
Among the groups already who have voiced opposition to the amendment are the Georgia Association of Educators Professional Association of Georgia Educators,Georgia Federation of Educators, the Georgia PTA, and a coalition of black clergy across the state.
Scott believes some lawmakers voted during the 2015 legislative session to put the failing school amendment before the voters in exchange for help from the governor on their bills, including the religious freedom bill.
“Some legislators sold out. Voted for the governor’s bill in ordered to have their own bills pass out of the legislatur and voted for and supported the OSD, when they actually were against OSD to make sure that the religious freedom bill would come out of committee. It came out of committee. It passed. It’s been vetoed, so what they were promised as a legislature has now gone back,” said Scott.
But, the man who fought hardest to push through the religious liberty legislation, State Senator Joshua McKoon told 11Alive News by telephone today that he still favors the OSD amendment.
“It hasn’t changed my mind,” said McKoon, (R) Columbus. “I think it’s (OSD) a fundamentally good policy.”
Though McKoon did admits not everyone agrees with him.
“Heard from some (lawmakers) in the last two days angry about what happened on other issues and may change their minds (about OSD)
He’s not alone.
“I could disagree with the governor over his veto of the religious freedom bill and I could still support him on what he’s trying to accomplish with the opportunity school district,” said Brockway.
Students First Director O'Sullivan thinks the governor may have actually gained supporters from independents and democrats who like that he vetoed the religious liberty bill.
Opponent’s hope that is not true and have already started a grassroots campaign to stop the amendment from passing.