Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Gov. Deal says he won't save the HOPE Scholarship

Gov. Deal stood in front of UGA's graduating class last Friday night and talked about the importance of higher education.

He encouraged the graduates to be bold:
"Fears cause us not to be bold, and I urge you to be willing to take chances. Don’t let failure or the fear of failure be something that deters you from making bold moves and high endeavors," Gov. Deal said.
But the speech seems to be a joke. 

In the hours before he stood in Sanford Stadium to provide his advice to graduates, Gov. Deal gave a very different kind of advice to a reporter at the Athens Banner-Herald.
"Deal said he doesn’t plan to push for any changes to HOPE next year. In particular, he dismissed a proposal for a video casino in Gwinnett County, saying that it wouldn’t increase lottery revenue because gamblers would buy fewer lottery tickets."
According to Gov. Deal's logic, allowing the Georgia Lottery to expand to video gaming would generate less money.

Gov. Deal simply refuses to be bold to save the HOPE Scholarship -- even though he has gone out of his way to remind voters that the scholarship is good for Georgia.

The HOPE Scholarship is going broke. Refusing to act is a death sentence.

Georgia’s HOPE Scholarship has not been fully funded since 2008. Without immediate changes, the state will spend all of its reserve funds within a few years. Today's high school freshman will not see the HOPE Scholarship as we know it.

Under Gov. Deal's leadership, the HOPE Scholarship is quickly turning into a student debt program, putting college out-of-reach for many bright students.

To save the HOPE Scholarship, Gov. Deal must act now. Instead, he's putting his fingers in his ears.

There are many possible solutions to save the HOPE Scholarship. 

Among the solutions, our lawmakers could add a family income cap; award the scholarship to the top students in every county; or match HOPE Scholarships to areas that spend the most on buying lottery tickets. These are all changes to how the existing, limited pool of money is spent.

Another way is to make the pie bigger and increase revenue.

The development of a destination hotel and conference center with video gaming -- by all accounts except the governor's -- would increase Georgia Lottery revenue and bring new cash to the failing HOPE Scholarship.

For Gov. Deal to suggest otherwise is a sign that he's allowed fear to cause him to be timid.

He should take his own advice and be bold.

Gov. Deal could pick up the phone today and call the Georgia Lottery board. He could encourage board members to approve lottery ticket sales through electronic games in a single location in Gwinnett County.

Or, Gov. Deal could promise to fight for changes in how current lottery income is spent. A family income cap, or other measures, would make sure that HOPE remains a scholarship, not a student debt program that only benefits bankers.

Either decision would be a step toward saving the HOPE Scholarship.

To stubbornly refuse to act is a sign of weakness for Gov. Deal. And it's harmful to Georgia businesses that need more college graduates.


Call or email Gov. Deal and tell him to pick a path -- any path -- to Save the HOPE Scholarship:
(404) 656-1776
(If you call or email Gov. Deal, please let us know: http://www.signon.org/tools/call.html?id=3984-621487-zcC8G7)

If you want to encourage your friends and family to save the HOPE Sholarship, please use email, Facebook or Twitter to share a link to this petition:

Thank you,
Bryan Long

"Those that dream by night, in the dusty recesses of their mind, wake in the day to find that all was vanity, but the dreamers of the day, are dangerous men, for they may act out their dreams and make them real."

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