In talking to parents of young children, I find many fear that the HOPE Scholarship will dwindle away to pennies by the time their kids reach college age.
The changes to HOPE by Gov. Nathan Deal and the Legislature link the merit scholarship to available lottery funds, so the amount will now vary year to year. It will likely never pay 100 percent of tuition again, given the growing demand on lottery proceeds.
Did you see the AJC interview with the father of HOPE,former Gov. Zell Miller? In a rare press interview, an ailing Miller told my colleague Jim Galloway, “I don’t think they had any other choice. We knew back in the ‘90s that there would be adjustments. This came as no surprise.”
Galloway reports that Miller is not alarmed at the decision by state lottery officials to approve the sale of tickets through the Internet.
“I’m okay with that. In fact, we wrote the lottery law so you could do that,” he said. But as for that plan to create a casino with machines operated by the Georgia Lottery Corporation, Miller said he’ll let others decide that.
Now, a new poll by by SurveyUSA for 11Alive news showed 56 percent of likely voters said they would support casino-style video lottery terminals to raise money for HOPE. The TV station reports that support for the casino machines reaches across almost every demographic; even voters who identify themselves as “conservative” and “evangelical” approve.
I don’t share the fears of some that gambling will lead Georgia into depravity. (We already have legalized gambling with the lottery.)
That’s probably because I grew up in New Jersey where Atlanta City is a gambling mecca with a large appeal to retirees in the region who come by the busloads for the slot machines, dinner and a show.
I am not a gambler but have seen friends struggle with its addictive nature. I am not sure we can create public policy that avoids feeding all bad habits. (Witness the uproar in New York, which is about to vote on the big soda ban sought by Mayor Bloomberg to combat obesity.)
What do you think? Are we setting down the wrong path with casino machines even for a good cause, expanded higher ed options?
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog