Is Perdue proposing a $34 million raid on HOPE and pre-k lottery funds?

It appears that Gov. Sonny Perdue plans to raid the lottery proceeds used to fund the HOPE Scholarship and pre-k, something I dare say he would not do if he wasn’t about to get out of Dodge.

There is a lively e-mail exchange among supporters of pre-k, who discovered deep in the proposed budget that the governor is substituting lottery funds for state general revenues for about $34 million in special scholarships and tuition grants awarded by the state each year. (I am adding this note on Sunday; There is a great story on this HOPE issue in the Sunday AJC,.)

According to pages 348 to 350 of Perdue’s budget, it appears the governor is proposing to use lottery monies for such things as:

-The HERO scholarships -$800,000.

-Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnership Program–$966,757

-North Ga. Military Scholarship Grants—$1,502,800 and

-North Georgia ROTC Grants–$652,479.

The question on the e-mail chain: Is it legal? Yes, the lottery is designed to fund education and scholarships, but its main beneficiaries are supposed to be pre-k and HOPE. While these other scholarships are clearly educational, they had been funded from non-lottery education dollars in the past.

Can the governor now use lottery funds not to supplement, but to supplant funding for established programs? The Constitution would appear to say not, since it specifies that the net proceeds of the lottery “shall be used to supplement, not supplant. non-lottery educational resources for educational programs and purposes.”

What is odd about diverting lottery funds is that we have a rise in students using HOPE Scholarships and HOPE grants, which underwrite technical school educations, and we need more pre-k spots.

Disconcerting to pre-k advocates is the continued slighting of early childhood education in this state, which was a pioneer in the effort but has slackened its pace and its support.

On Saturday night, I am adding this review of the issue by Atlanta attorney Emmet J. Bondurant, who gave me permission to share his observations, which he made as part of the e-mail exchange among pre-k advocates and some legislators:

The following example is a much larger, but less obvious example of the Governor’s use of lottery funds to supplant general revenue funds for education:

The Governor has supplanted $84, 513, 623 of his total cuts of $133,662.980 in the appropriation to the Board of Regents from general revenues for FY 2011. (Budget page 12), by increasing the appropriation for HOPE Scholarships-Public Schools by $84,513,623. Thus, $84, million in lottery dollars are supplanting a majority of the $133. 6 million cut in general revenue appropriations for higher public education.

Although more attenuated, the Governor has done essentially the same thing when he supplanted the $29,765,194 in Tuition Equalization grants that previously came from general revenues to “promote the private segment of higher education in Georgia by providing non-repayable grant in aid to Georgia residents to attend eligible private post secondary schools” such as Emory, Mercer and Morehouse, by increasing the HOPE Scholarships-Private Schools by $35,614,898 which will go to the same private colleges and universities.

The Georgia Constitution provides in Art. 1 sec. 2, para. 8 that the Governor has broad authority to “make specific recommendations as to the educational programs and educational purposes to which said net proceeds [from the Georgia Lottery] shall be appropriated.”

The Constitution also states that the General Assembly “shall appropriate all net proceeds of the lottery… by such separate budget category [in the General Appropriations Act] to educational programs and educational purposes.” Art. 1, sec. 2, para. 8(c). A literal reading of this language would mean that the General Assembly is constitutionally required to appropriate annually “all net proceeds of the lottery” for educational purposes, in excess of the 10% constitutional educational reserve specified in Art. 1, sec 2, para. 8(c)(3) and the statutory educational shortfall reserve of __% specified in OCGA _____.

A literal reading of the Constitution would lead to the conclusion that the governor have been illegally accumulating more than $600 million in an unrestricted lottery surplus account that should have been appropriated to fully fund Pre-K since HOPE is already fully funded…The Governor and the General Assembly have not, however, interpreted Art. 1, sec. 2, para. 8 literally as requiring the General Assembly to appropriate annually the full amount (i.e. “all net proceeds of the lottery”) in excess of the constitutional and statutory reserves. The General Assembly has in practice appropriated only the amount of lottery reserves “recommended” by the Governor in his annual budget. This practice ignores the fact that the Constitution expressly states that Governor’s budget is only a “recommendation” as well as the specific language in the Constitution that plainly states that the General Assembly “shall appropriate all net proceeds of the lottery”‘ for the educational purposes specified in the constitution–”tuition grants, scholarships or loans to citizens [of Georgia].. to attend colleges or universities” in Georgia [Art. 1, sec. 2, para. 8(c)(1)] or
voluntary Pre K. id Art. 1.

To address the specific question which is raised by your e-mail – whether the governor and the General Assembly can use lottery funds to replace the appropriates from non-lottery general revenues that were previously used to fund college scholarships and tuition equalization grants, the answer is that this use of lottery funds is expressly prohibited by Art. 1, sec. 2, para. 8 of the Constitution that specifically provides that “such net proceeds [of the Georgia lottery] shall be used to supplement, not supplant, non-lottery educational resources for educational programs and purposes.”

Assuming that you have interpreted the Governor’s budget correctly, the Governor’s proposal to appropriate net lottery proceeds to fund college scholarships and tuition grants that were previously funded from general revenues would be ultra vires and a direct violation of the express limitation on the uses of lottery funds set forth in Art. 1, sec. 2, para. 8 of the Georgia Constitution.

Since it is unlikely that the Governor himself or any department head in the executive branch is likely to be willing to do so, I would suggest that one or more members of the General Assembly write the Attorney General requesting an official opinion as to whether the Governor’s budget proposal that a portion of the lottery reserves be used to fund scholarships and tuition grants previously funded out of the general fund is constitutional.

The same letter might also request an opinion as to whether the General Assembly is bound by the literal wording of Art. 1, sec. 2, para. 8 and is required to appropriate the full amount of the unrestricted lottery surplus each year for college scholarships and Pre K, instead of whatever paltry amount may be recommended by the Governor.

207 comments Add your comment

SLP

January 23rd, 2010
11:46 am

Ah, let’s see how the teflon governor eases out of this one.

Gun & A Book

January 23rd, 2010
11:49 am

These aren’t just non-HOPE & PreK programs.

Sonny proposes additional support for military to receive an education? Seems like it is really incentive to get people to go into the miliary, to war & to die. That doesn’t seem right. Why didn’t the AJC point out that these are ALL programs tied to the militiary? Not very responsible journalism.

Kevin

January 23rd, 2010
11:55 am

@ Gun & A Book. You’re right. As a matter of fact, we should collect all of the people that make it out of Iraq/Afghanistan alive and throw rocks at them until they’re convinced just how dumb they are.

You, dear friend, are a heartless idiot. I hope no one in your family is in the military so they don’t have to endure the bitterness that permeates your contempt for the military.

Tony

January 23rd, 2010
11:58 am

It seems that when we as educators raise these issues we are just whining and complaining. Maybe if others begin to realize how dastardly the financial maneuvers from this governor are (and have been), then perhaps we can expect the legislature to be more active in resisting the governor’s budget proposals.

The lottery was instituted with a threefold mission: preK, HOPE, and technology. We have not seen technology funding from the lottery for years, many years. I don’t think it is appropriate to use the lottery funds to replace funding that is supposed to come from the general revenue. This is why that protective language was included in the referendum for the lottery. Florida did not include that kind of protection and the result was a disaster in school funding for that state.

machodonkeywrestler

January 23rd, 2010
11:59 am

Just wait until you see where all the superspeeder fine money ends up. Here’s a hint: It won’t be for trauma care, which is the original justification for the fine.

Gun & A Book

January 23rd, 2010
12:07 pm

@ kevin…I do have family and friends in the military who went into the military because they felt it was the right thing for them to do NOT just to get an education. I totally support their decision and pray for them each day. I believe that if you serve your country that you should be afforded some additional opportunities – education being one of them.

The educational system in GA is horrible. There should be amble opportunity to receive a decent education in this backward state without having to enlist in the military. The two things should not be linked so closely.

If you are a kid and want a decent (not even good in GA) education you should have that opportunity without being influenced to join the military.

Bart

January 23rd, 2010
12:08 pm

Education is education. Get over it.

Jan

January 23rd, 2010
12:08 pm

Govenor,
Don’t you dare!!!!
Don’t even think about!!!
How much longer is your term in office? We need a change.

Pre-K?

January 23rd, 2010
12:10 pm

As an older person (pre-Pre-K), I must admit that I have always sought a better explanation of the merits of pre-K. Exactly what curriculum is so vital that makes Pre-K a necessity? Really, I just don’t understand: is Pre-K imparting knowledge to children that parents cannot do themselves or do children need early inculcation into such time-honored school tasks as standing in line; sitting quietly; following orders; and receiving criticism for work? Obviously I am not a proponent of Pre-K, so I would like to hear from some better-informed sources so I can better understand the need of the program.

Look before I leap

January 23rd, 2010
12:11 pm

What does the word supplement mean here?
Can he make the changes legal by allocating $1 from the state general funds and using lottery funds to make up the rest?
I see that he eviserated the teacher scholarships – guess ole SOnny knows that after royally screwing the teachers this year and next that NO one would want to be a teacher here.

Dick

January 23rd, 2010
12:15 pm

Pre-K is a baby sitting service that was started years ago by the democratic party so those who supported them would be able to spit out kid after kid after kid (while being paid) and not have to bother with raising them. I say stop it.

Aquagirl

January 23rd, 2010
12:16 pm

A couple million to the N. Ga. Military College? Somebody up there has arranged a sweetheart deal. One of Sonny’s fishing buddies, perhaps.

Because I can’t say this enough: If you voted for Sonny Perdue, you are an idiot. Do us all a favor, stay away from the voting booth in the future.

NY Nick

January 23rd, 2010
12:16 pm

I think, lets see 140 celebrities times 250k is 35 million. If we take 250k times infinite amount of celebrities and high end CEO’s and the combined athletes that make over 5 million a year playing sports. I think we can solve lots of issues in this country+rebuild Haiti to a High end Vacation spot. It just friggin behooves me that these damn Rich actors where askin the American people just barely gettin by Americans for cashhhhh!!!!!!!!

Ole Guy

January 23rd, 2010
12:16 pm

According to the wording in the constitution, the governor’s actions would appear to be lawful. Is it right? That’s another question; one would suspect, like the “go fish” initiative, there’s a personal element, rather than a “what’s good for Georgia” motive, behind this move.

As for the mis-guided notion that attendance at a military school somehow equates to eventual military service…well, I would rather maintain a kind posture than inform some people how absurd they are in expressing such ill-founded nonesense. Employing that logic, one could argue against funding attendance at any college /university, for any graduate from any college/university can join the military.

Does anyone think before issuing such a rediculous comment?

Richard J Bishop

January 23rd, 2010
12:16 pm

The military has enough money to educate itself. I’m a former member of the military and benefited from the Montgormery GI Bill. Hey Sonny how about letting the military fund its educational programs and let’s worry about Georgia’s children!

Dick

January 23rd, 2010
12:18 pm

Hey New York Nick. YOu haven’t seen anuything yet. People are coming over here by the airplanes loads and you know once in America you never leave. I am saving my money now so I can support tehm when they get all thr freebees our government gives those who shouldn’t be here. As to actors and ball players, I say Bah hum bug

AF

January 23rd, 2010
12:19 pm

SLP: “Ah, let’s see how the teflon governor eases out of this one.”

Don’t be silly. He is a Republican.

Think how the Republicans handled the ethical issues of the former and unlamented Speaker of the Georgia House, Mr. Richardson. They knew he was having an affair with a lobbyist, they knew he was supporting legislation that was advocated by that lobbyist. They heard his former wife say the former speaker would use his political influence to have state law enforcement harrass her.

Did they investigage any of this for ethical, if not illegal, activity? If they did, I certainly didn’t hear about it.

Evidently, it is not an ethical violation for a Republican law maker in Georgia to have affairs with lobbyists whose issues they could then support in the legislature. While we don’t know if Richardson actually did try to get state law enforcement to harrass his former wife, we do know that the Republicans won’t investigate to find out.

So, this years Republican legislators can just all go right ahead and have affairs, threaten girl friends, former spouses, current lovers, or enemies of any stripe because their buddies won’t investigate.

Well, the point is that all Republicans wear a teflon coating. They award it to each other for being good little Republicans. And the voters don’t mind as long as they are Republicans because the alternative is to vote for a (oh, horrors, dare I mention the word) Democrat!!!!!!

Dick

January 23rd, 2010
12:19 pm

If the branches of teh military can provide a car in Nascar, they don’t need any scholarhips.

abacus2

January 23rd, 2010
12:20 pm

Pre-K is simply subsidized child care. I’m a teacher and I have yet to see evidence that attending pre-K enhances future educational performance. The Goobernator needs to go back to delivering calves.

ga

January 23rd, 2010
12:23 pm

i’m screwed if he does, this man needs to go..

Gun & A Book

January 23rd, 2010
12:27 pm

@ Pre-K? & @abacus2…We need pre – K because GA has such an uneducated population that the kids don’t get the basics needed to enter kindergarten on the same level as most of the country. The real beauty is that the kids excel until around second grade then they start falling behind. They end up so far behind that they only graduate with what is equal to a 10th or 11th grade education elsewhere.

Tom

January 23rd, 2010
12:27 pm

Just when I thought I heard it all.

Jim

January 23rd, 2010
12:31 pm

Perdue is a shyster to the nth degree. He has screwed this state royally. He has screwed employees. He has screwed teachers – especially the highest qualified ones. No one should believe a word he says. Along with Perdue, his henchmen in the General Assembly who are right there with him, or too dumb to see what’s happening, or too chicken to take a stand. The whole lot needs to go.

abacus2

January 23rd, 2010
12:32 pm

Gun & A Book – The problem is that the children DON’T arrive in kindergarten with basics on the same level as the rest of the country. The money would be better spent in providing smaller classes in grades K through 3. We also need to stop social promoting children who have not mastered the basics.

A dad

January 23rd, 2010
12:33 pm

Notice to all incumbents:

Sonny amy be teflon and out of here, but if you are up for re-election this November or in 2 years, keep Massachusetts in mind. Power to the people!

AF

January 23rd, 2010
12:37 pm

If the State of Georgia is to honor our military with educational opportunities, I would rather this money go toward scholarships and assistanceships for our returning veterans.

But, even with that thought, I don’t want Sonny to unilaterally decide that lottery money can go for non-Hope and non-preK. That is up to the legislature.

[...] Read the original here: Is Perdue proposing a raid on HOPE and pre-k lottery funds? [...]

Lottery making RECORD PROFITS???

January 23rd, 2010
12:49 pm

I don’t understand. If the lottery is making record profits, shouldn’t that mean that MORE money is being funneled into the intended programs? Where exactly are these “record profits” going?

Teacher salaries would seem like a good place to start.

Dr. Phil

January 23rd, 2010
12:50 pm

Sonny Perdue is the most corrupt and ineffective buffoon ever to occupy the goverrnor’s office. If the state attorney general were not his lackey, Sonny would be in jail.

Kill The Bonuses

January 23rd, 2010
12:50 pm

You are lashing out at Sonny. Why not kill the outrageous bonuses received by the Lottery employees? Those funds would cover much of these proposed costs!

SLP

January 23rd, 2010
12:50 pm

AF – Well said. Do you remember what the republicans called Roy Barnes? A rat. Well, looks like Sonny is King Rat going after the big cheese in this one.

A question to the people of Georgia: Why did you re-elect this rat?

Dick

January 23rd, 2010
12:53 pm

I will admit I voted for Sonny. But I will shout from the mountain tops, I didn’t vote for Obuma.

Sally

January 23rd, 2010
12:53 pm

I say, lets raid the funds that are building Sonny’s fishing hole for whatever other education funds are needed.

Remember the tax law he signed just in time to save himself a boatload of $$ from some land deal. And then the fishing hole next to his property to draw in tourist.

Oh heavens, I was still on a high from Tues. election in Mass. and you have to bring me down with one more of Sonny’s tricks. Can’t you journalist find something to bring him down with? Thankfully we no longer have to abide Glenn Richardson. Too bad he didn’t take Sonny with him.

Mr. Thomkas Anthony "The Taxman Cometh" Jones, SR (Waf-SS, Lt. Colonel, Breman, Germany, ret.)

January 23rd, 2010
12:56 pm

I told you people that Sonny Perdue (formar UGA quarterback) was a crook. His l;and deals smell to high Heaven. Why my Internal Revenue Service (Uniter States Departmant of Treasury agency) has not incvestigate this crook is beyond me. Mr. Douglas Shulman, Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service should have all his Revenue Agents and Special Agents down at the State Capital toting aways computers, laptops, disks, and files. There was atime when a Repaublican like Perdue would not be allowed in the State Capital. Now the liar has stole millions and is going to bankrupct the Hope Scholarship Program. Why are Georgians rioting in the streets. Do the people in this racist state not know how to make a Molotov (Union of Soviet Socialist Republic Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov)Cocktail. This man is crook and a liar and a racist. Where is the Internal revenue Service when we need them to help us. (Do not depend on the Georgia Department of Revenue. Their Commissioner is Bart Graham, a henchmen of Perdue, who serves at Perdue’s whim.)

abacus2

January 23rd, 2010
12:57 pm

No! We need the fishing holes – they’re the only place teachers can afford to go to on their furlough days!

retired

January 23rd, 2010
12:59 pm

Brarnes tried to raid the retirement funds and hope funds also. They are looking for money.Do not be fooled into voting for him again.
Right now there is not enough money. Actually, Pre K and Head-Start research shows that it does really not do what we had hoped and it really is just daycare….good government funded day care. So maybe the money should be used to help fund college scholarship.

G

January 23rd, 2010
12:59 pm

Some of you people are absolutely retarded. The problems Georgia suffers aren’t the result of the war, or a republican governor. They’re the result of horrible parents who have no class, morals, or standards and have no idea how to properly raise their children. It starts at home! Take a look at yourselves and stop blaming others. Do yourselves, your children and the rest of society a favor and suck on the end of shotgun. Ask some of the counselors/teachers you know with DECENT parents and upbringings what they’re coming across in public schools. I promise you won’t hear them talking about a republican governor using lottery funds to pay for schooling for the individuals who had strong enough moral cores to succeed. And to the AJC staff, you may want to ask yourselves what kind of person typically reads, let alone keeps up with current events, to begin with. Hate to break it to you, but the Atlanta demographic is quickly changing.

bake

January 23rd, 2010
1:02 pm

Maybe if that moron is going to take money from the lotto he can use it to stop furloughing all the state employees. I hear teachers are getting 3 more days this year so I’d assume that means all state workers. So on top of taking money from the kids who can’t afford to go to college he’s going to take a couple thousand dollars again from me this year because he can’t balance the budget. I’m so glad so many of you voted for him AGAIN after what’ he’d already done to this state. What a joke.

dsm

January 23rd, 2010
1:02 pm

One thing I didn’t see mentioned in this article is the huge increases in lottery profits. AJC had an article about it earlier this week. Did anyone do any research to see if allocating these funds for other scholarships will affect HOPE and Pre K recipients?
Oh and what’s the deal with bashing republicans? or democrats, or anyone for their beliefs for that matter? Not trying to defned Perdue, but has anyone considered that maybe this was done to save these scholarships, rather than cut them out completely? Try taking a lot at the bigger picture,sometimes there is a good reason behind doing these things.

So what?

January 23rd, 2010
1:03 pm

Dick… practically every other state in the union understands how important it is to get kids in the classroom early… even Mississippi. Pre-K is MORE than a babysitting service, it acclimates our children to learning at a time in their lives when their little brains are like sponges, soaking up everything they see and hear. My question for you is why do you want the children of Georgia to suffer? Why are you OK with our state remaining at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to our children’s education? Why don’t you understand that without an education, these children grow up with no hope and could possibly end up on the dole or worse?

I suppose from your comments that you are a conservative. So one more question… why do conservatives claim to be all about family values, yet want to short-change our children when it comes to their education?

How About The Bonuses

January 23rd, 2010
1:04 pm

If the Lottery employees were not paid such large bonuses, and those funds were used for education, this would not be such a big deal.

The Truth

January 23rd, 2010
1:05 pm

The whole educational system in Georgia is a sham. People in a position of power to really change things have no incentive because their kids will do just fine – their kids are getting the exposure to different educational activities and experiences that will make them well-rounded enough to attend college. And, like it or not, it all comes down to economic condition of the family. Children from more affluent areas tend to perform better in public schools because, more often than not, their parents are able to provide a variety of experiences and educational exposure outside of school. Families with less income have to work harder to provide the same level of educational exposure with less. Combining resources, taking advantage of free resources, and strong parental participation can help lower-income children perform just as well as children from more affluent areas. In order for this to work, you need parents that view schools more than just a mostly-safe source of free day-care and actually take a sincere and strong interest in the quality of their children’s education, which is hard to do when you have the primal needs of food, clothing, and shelter to fight for everyday. These are just the facts. I’m not some bleeding heart liberal that believes low-income families can’t do anything to assist the education of their children. Neither am I some heartless conservative that believes everyone is on their own in this world. Education in Georgia is not going to get any better anytime soon as we have just passed the 51% threshold as far as low-income students attending public school. Supplementing the lack of parental participation in these children is going to be expensive unless the people demand reformation of public education in this state.

Tyler Durden

January 23rd, 2010
1:07 pm

Poor Kevin. He took a break from Faux News and Boortz to spew some of the rhetoric they’ve brainwashed into him, and no one appreciates the effort. I’m former military (as are a half-dozen members of my family), and believe me: there are AMPLE educational incentives in place already. Perdue is simply appeasing nutjobs like Kevin, the teabaggers and freedom-fryers, and the GOP base who protected Glenn Richardson for all these years. Beyond that, there isn’t any real justification.

Kevin: never let the facts get in the way of your ideology. Otherwise, you won’t have anything to keep you warm at night.

The Truth

January 23rd, 2010
1:08 pm

Republicans have fought the lottery from it’s inception. Spend money to help other family’s kids go to college, SOCIALISM!!!
They couldn’t stop it so they are trying to destroy it. First step was to open enrollment for hope for all high income family’s even though they don’t need it. The more at the trough the less for the kids that really need it.
Second they quit giving for technology upgrade at schools. Really need those schools to fail so they can prove their point.
Now, start raiding the money to fund personal scholarships favorites. More for those on my side and less for those that need it.

If we let this happen soon there will be a list a mile long in line for lottery funds and those it was suppose to help will be left out in the cold.

SHAME ON YOU SONNY!!!!!!

sr

January 23rd, 2010
1:21 pm

Dick, reading your post, you are a typical Georgian. You complain about the Republicans and continue to hear all the corruption that encircles them but will always continue to vote for them. Dick get a clue what Republicans are all about and reflect on that last eight years of Republican governing has resulted in both nationally and within Georgia. And Dick from the looks of your posts your Georgia education and the lack there of is very apparent. Try something new think before you speak and definitley before you write.

abacus2

January 23rd, 2010
1:21 pm

The Truth (as you see it) – There is no educational program in the world that is going to make up for what doen’t start in the home from day one. You do not need to have money to talk, play, and explore with your child. I’m tired of the pity parties for the “poor and downtrod” who keep popping out children they don’t intend to raise and who do NOTHING but wait for another government handout.

retired

January 23rd, 2010
1:25 pm

For those of you who think Purdue is a corrupt buffon, you have not been around Ga politics…Pretty much been that way for a long while. Parties may change, but what goes on in the back doen’t.

The Truth

January 23rd, 2010
1:29 pm

@ abacus2 – Obviously, you didn’t read the end of my post:

“I’m not some bleeding heart liberal that believes low-income families can’t do anything to assist the education of their children. Neither am I some heartless conservative that believes everyone is on their own in this world. Education in Georgia is not going to get any better anytime soon as we have just passed the 51% threshold as far as low-income students attending public school. Supplementing the lack of parental participation in these children is going to be expensive unless the people demand reformation of public education in this state.”

You and I actually agree, so why do you think that I have an opposing opinion?

Citizens Against Government Waste

January 23rd, 2010
1:29 pm

Sonny Perdue, the tax payers worst enemy, the teachers greatest adversary and the militarys advocate for lottery funded education. This guy is truly the worst Governor in Georgia history

dennis

January 23rd, 2010
1:30 pm

Well ever since Margaret R. DeFrancisco took over the lottery it hasn’t been worth playing it. She has stripped out a large portion of the winning tickets. I believe that Perdue hired her to destroy the lottery.