In the 2nd week of January 2015 the Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee chaired by Rep. Katie Dempsey met and took up the Refugee Resettlement Budget. In the meeting the Commissioner for the Department of Human Services, Keith Horton presented the budget for Refugee Resettlement (RR). Horton took questions from various representatives. Rep. Tom Taylor, Dunwoody asked him if the school cost for refugees was being paid. Horton lead Taylor to believe that the federal government was paying for refugee schooling in Georgia.
The truth is that there is no federal money in the budget earmarked and designated specifically for refugees. Horton was quoting misrepresentations from resettlement contractors and here is how they come up with their explanation.
Georgia receives Title 1 money for poor and disadvantaged school children. The feds make their calculation based on the state school enrollment for the previous year. There is no special appropriation for refugees. The money coves all children from low income families.
Next the contractors claim the benefit of Title III, money which is earmarked for immigrants. This means all immigrants, not specifically refugees.
The bottom line is that there is no money in the budget solely for refugees. All of these calculations are based on the previous fiscal year of the federal government and based on school populations in each state.
The big problem is that regardless of the federal money, Georgia counties pay between 30 and 70% of the local school cost of refugees themselves from school property taxes. In Taliafarro County the local share is about 30% because it is a poor county. In the City of Atlanta approximately 70% comes from local property taxes. Gwinnett gets about 52% from local property taxes.
Ex. Last year the cost per student in Gwinnett County Schools was a little over $10,000 per student. With 52% of the school budget coming from Gwinnett County property taxes, you are paying $5,200 per student. This year we have had a huge influx of students due to refugees, illegal immigrants, diversity visa immigrants, and various other programs of the Obama administration.
Keith Horton misleads the committee members into to thinking that the school cost for refugee children is being paid by the Federal government. The only one paying for the school cost is the Georgia tax payer via State and especially local school taxes based on your property value.
Refugee Resettlement Contractors have been getting away with these misrepresentations since 1980 and the members of the General Assembly never look behind the numbers to see who is really paying for this program. It is time the General Assembly woke up and did their jobs.
The House of Representatives will vote on its budget later this week or the following week. Then the budget goes to Senator Renee Unterman's (Buford) Human Resources Subcommittee, which she chairs. It is no secret that she loves the RR program and will give them everything they ask for. All the RR money comes from the Federal government and we don't have take it. As long as we do take it, Georgia will continue to receive a disproportionate amount of refugees that overwhelm our school's resources. The RR statute provides that if we don't spend the RR money then it defaults back to the Federal government. It is that simple to stop.
Tell Senator Unterman to cut RR out of the budget!!