Georgia lawmakers fail to fund tuition-free CDL programs for veterans

(The Center Square) — Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp vetoed a measure that would have required the Technical College System of Georgia to offer tuition-free commercial driver’s license training programs for veterans.

Senate Bill 203, the Trucking Opportunity Act of 2023, was subject to appropriations by the General Assembly.

“This proposal was previously included in House Bill 249, which I vetoed [in May 2023] on the grounds that the General Assembly failed to fund the initiative,” Kemp said in a statement outlining his rationale for last month’s veto of Senate Bill 203.

“The General Assembly also failed to fund Senate Bill 203 this year,” the Republican governor added. “I remain in steadfast support of our veterans and would encourage those wishing to pursue CDL training to seek out currently funded resources to cover tuition costs such as the Hope Career Grant.”

Tackling the truck driver shortage has been a priority for state lawmakers, who created the Senate Study Committee on Truck Driver Shortages during the 2023 legislative session. However, the head of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association disputed the shortage in an interview with The Center Square.

Last year, Georgia Piedmont Technical College broke ground on a 24,000-square-foot Regional Transportation Training Center in Stonecrest.

Lawmakers included $5.8 million for the facility in the fiscal 2022 budget, though officials previously said the project’s cost had increased to $12 million. The facility has been projected to open to students in the fall of 2024, and officials previously said the school has room to double its commercial truck driving program enrollment.

In November 2022, Stonecrest announced that the City Council awarded Georgia Piedmont Technical College $500,000 in American Rescue Plan Act money. The grant will support continuing education and workforce training at the school’s Regional Transportation Training Center.

By T.A. DeFeo | The Center Square contributor

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