The Georgia State Senate, controlled by Republicans, voted not to create a private school voucher program. 

Critics said the program would eventually cost the state half a billion a year, defunding public schools.

Democrats voted as a bloc against it, joined by key Republicans including Senate President Pro Tem Butch Miller of Gainesville.

Public school supporters who opposed the bill were astonished.

The fate of the bill by Sen. Greg Dolezal, R-Cumming, stunned the public school lobby, which had been working overtime against it.

“Pleasantly surprised,” was how Craig Harper, executive director of the 90,000-plus member Professional Association of Georgia Educators put it.

John Zauner, executive director of the Georgia School Superintendents Association, said the legislation would have “fundamentally” changed school financing.