Your morning jolt: Keep the 3.0 for HOPE scholarships, says Nathan Deal

The Georgia Lottery can’t keep up with the demand as the HOPE scholarship enrollment and tuition costs keep rising.

Some lawmakers have suggested raising the minimum grade point average from 3.0 to 3.2 to winnow the number of eligible students.

But Nathan Deal, who takes office Monday, says no. From Paul Yates at Fox5:

Said Deal:

“I think keeping it at the 3.0 is a reasonable standard. If we raise it too much higher than that, we really do cut out some of those very deserving students who work very hard and deserve the opportunity to go to college.”

But the governor-elect did indicate he’s open to other fixes:

”We’ve got to look at the allocation. Some would suggest that perhaps we need to decouple it from the tuition cost. Just fix an amount. There are many options that are on the table.”

***
Congressman-elect Rob Woodall, who replaces his old boss, U.S. Rep. John Linder, announced this morning that he’s won a spot on the all-powerful House Rules Committee.

“This was my top committee choice. If there is a way to have a positive impact in the House of Representatives that the constituents of the Seventh District can be proud of, it’s by serving on the Committee on Rules,” Woodall said.

***
The House Rules Committee controlls the flow of bills to the floor and the length of debate. Which cuts to the heart of the task that now falls to John Boehner of Ohio, who becomes the House speaker in a matter of hours.

According to the New York Times and one of Boehner’s best friends:

“The problem is going to be the grass-roots movement out in the countryside,” said Vin Weber, a former Republican House member and Washington lobbyist who served with Mr. Boehner in the 1990s. “They have no sense of the limits on a party that controls only one of the three seats of power. Managing that relationship is going to be difficult.”

And that is just one of the problems confronting Mr. Boehner, a former small-business man who has been carefully preparing for his new role for months and seems to relish the chance to finally run the often-unmanageable House the way he believes it ought to be run.

“He has worked his way back, and he has thought this through,” said Senator Saxby Chambliss, Republican of Georgia and part of Mr. Boehner’s inner circle from their days together in the House.

“But, gee whiz, it is not going to be easy,” Mr. Chambliss added. “We have a bunch of those House guys who are really on fire.”

***
Over at Atlanta Unfiltered, Jim Walls has more details on the recent purchase of Oaky Woods land by the state:

The 2004 sale price of the site of the Oaky Woods Wildlife Management Area was so sweet that it could not be used to place a value on the property today, appraisers for the state say.

A Houston County development group pocketed $19.4 million last week when it sold 10,036 acres to the state Department of Natural Resources, a summary of the transaction shows. The remaining $9.2 million from the sale went to mortgage holder Columbus Bank & Trust Co., whose parent company, Synovus Financial, has bled red ink for two-plus years due to bad real-estate loans.

***
Many say that ethics reform adopted by the Legislature last year didn’t go far enough. But in an op-ed piece being distributed for publication, the anti-tax group Americans for Prosperity argue that new requirements place too heavy a burden on real people who want a say in the state Capitol.

Read a longer argument here. But this is the gist:

In a nutshell, the legislation makes no distinction between a constituent’s activism and that of a professional lobbyist accepting compensation for advocating the passage or defeat of legislation. Instead, it utilizes a spending threshold of $250 to define lobbying.

Consider this hypothetical: The mother of a special needs child learns that the state of Georgia is considering cuts to special education funding. Over the course of a year, she spends $250 on postage writing letters to legislators encouraging them to oppose funding cuts. In the state of Georgia, this concerned mother will now be considered a professional lobbyist.

Red tape does not equal ethics reform. The Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Act of 2010 is a classic case of excessive caution gone awry.

***
Many eyes are focusing some well-deserved criticism at a Fulton County court system that set loose the man who killed a state trooper. But the state prison system might also be worth a glance, according to this overlooked NYT article from the weekend:

A counterfeiter at a Georgia state prison ticks off the remaining days of his three-year sentence on his Facebook page. He has 91 digital “friends.” Like many of his fellow inmates, he plays the online games FarmVille and Street Wars.

He does it all on a Samsung smartphone, which he says he bought from a guard. And he used the same phone to help organize a short strike among inmates at several Georgia prisons last month.

Technology is changing life inside prisons across the country at the same rapid-fire pace it is changing life outside. A smartphone hidden under a mattress is the modern-day file inside a cake.

“This kind of thing was bound to happen,” said Martin F. Horn, a former commissioner of the New York City Department of Correction who teaches at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “The physical boundaries that we thought protected us no longer work.”

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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11 comments Add your comment

Coastal Cavalier

January 5th, 2011
9:15 am

When it comes to HOPE I think there should be a serious look at the Board of Regents. They have looked at HOPE as a private bank and have raised costs almost willy nilly.

Julie

January 5th, 2011
9:19 am

The biggest drain on the Hope Scholarship comes from those who start college, or some other post high school Hope Scholarship program, and never finish either one.

Danny O

January 5th, 2011
10:40 am

@Coastal Cavalier: The reason the Regents have increased costs so rapidly has nothing to do w/HOPE. The state budget writers have repeatedly cut funding from the University System and the Regents have no choice but to raise the cost of education. It’s a zero-sum game: if less money comes from the state, the students pay more.

Danny O

January 5th, 2011
10:40 am

deegee

January 5th, 2011
10:41 am

Wouldn’t making the scholarship a fixed amount deny more students than raising the GPA threshold by .2 points? How much harder do you have to work to get a 3.2 rather than a 3.0?

Anthony R.

January 5th, 2011
10:46 am

Raise the requirement for Hope to 3.2 or higher. No one deserves a college education. You must earn it.

Its a head scratcher but why did it seem our colleges were safer before Hope? I graduated the year before Hope and had over 4.0 gpa weighted with AP classes. I got no scholarship from the State and had to apply for grants etc that were monopolized by very hard working kids that had the 4.0 and had financial negatives.

Its time to make this State run scholarship program a bit harder to get. Its a novel concept but lets make these kids work hard for something. Make them earn it.

P.S. A big problem with Hope is the CEO and her board of directors. No one needs to get paid a quarter million with a million + bonus to print F’n lottery tickets.

[...] Speaking of influential Georgians, Nathan Deal says to keep 3.0 as HOPE standard, as the new governor and the new legislative session faces tough cuts to balance the states [...]

Ghetto Grandpa

January 5th, 2011
2:30 pm

Of course the state appraisers are going to say that the purchase of Oaky Woods (at twice the price in a down market) was a great deal. What else are they gonna do? Ctiticize Sonny and his cronies? No way. So long as you are a politician with an (R) beside your name, things like ethics, accountability and results do not matter in this state.

Sonny replaced the only DNR board member who voted against the deal and we hardly heard a whimper. Look for continued silence from the House/Senate Majorities and their leadsership on this issue in 2011.

Question Man

January 5th, 2011
3:57 pm

Isn’t Nathan Deal the right guy to put the brakes on raising the GPA for Hope scholarships? Did Deal ever earn a GPA as high as 3.0?

Derrick

January 5th, 2011
4:45 pm

Keeping the GPA at 3.0 is the right thing. Students have already worked hard enough to get a 3.0 average in high-school.

[...] some ideas of my own. Here’s what Governor-elect Deal said about the matter on Monday (more here): “I think keeping it at the 3.0 is a reasonable standard. If we raise it too much higher than [...]