One of the selling points of the HOPE legislation speeding its way through the Legislature has been that, despite the cuts, the college scholarships would still cover 90 percent of tuition costs.
But Jason Carter, D-Decatur, says he and a few other Democratic senators sat down with Gov. Nathan Deal’s number-crunchers on Tuesday night and figured out that the real figure is more like 80 percent.
The 90 percent figure used in association with the current legislation, which Carter and other Senate Democrats oppose, is based on last year’s rates – for tuition that’s already paid for. The reduced scholarships “will go toward next year’s tuition. So it is an approximately 20 percent cut. I don’t think people fully understand that,” he said this morning.
Carter and other senators on Wednesday unveiled their plan for a HOPE scholarship plan that includes an income cap for the families of recipients.
In an interview with Denis O’Hayer of WABE (90.1 FM), Deal said he wouldn’t support means testing – but as much as acknowledged that the 90 percent figure being used now is likely to change:
”Obviously, if tuition costs do go up, in the short term, there would be consequences from that. However, by decoupling the program from the tuition, and tying it to the revenue source, which is lottery proceeds, the ability of the percentage to fluctuate by going above the 90 percent, if lottery funds justify that, would hopefully minimize that.”
In that WABE interview, Gov. Nathan Deal was also asked about HB 401, the bill that would require President Barack Obama to produce a certified copy of a “long-form birth certificate” if he wants his name on the Georgia ballot next year.
Deal has stepped into the birther debate before – as a congressman. On Wednesday, he found a gentle way to express his doubts about the measure:
”It is probably one of those issues that deserves national attention, rather than each state trying to take it up individually. I think that would be very difficult if you had different requirements from state to state. But I’ll trust the judgment of the members of the House and Senate on that one.”
And those 94 signatures that state Rep. Mark Hatfield, R-Waycross, had gathered for HB 401? He has slightly fewer now.
Larry Peterson of the Savannah Morning News talked to state Rep. Ann Purcell, R-Rincon, who represents territory near the Port of Savannah. That’s right. The port that’s in search of lots of money from the White House.
Purcell said she signed on as co-sponsor based on a description of the bill, which she hadn’t read.
“When I read it,” she said, “I found it wasn’t what we were talking about. … It goes farther than I want.”
…At one point, co-sponsors included at least 94 of the 180 members of the House. But, in addition to Purcell, four members withdrew as sponsors Wednesday, said Ann Hardin, a House Clerk staff member.
One of the missed details in a discussion of HB 401 is that – regardless of whether Barack Obama provides a copy of his birth certificate – the measure might still bar his candidacy in Georgia.
Thomas Wheatley at Creative Loafing covers the point with a note from Atlanta attorney Loren Collins, who focuses on the portion of the bill in which a candidate is required to swear that he or she has never held dual citizenship.
The attorney writes:
”Many presidents and presidential candidates have been dual citizens at some point in their lives. The current President was a dual citizen until his early 20s, so Hatfield’s bill would necessarily forbid Obama’s name from appearing on the Georgia primary ballot. And that is guaranteed to result in a lawsuit, a lawsuit that Georgia is guaranteed to lose.”
Martha Zoller, who has a morning rado show on FM103.7 WXKT, sends word that she’ll have former U.S. House speaker Newt Gingrich on at 11:50 a.m. today. Gingrich’s meeting with Gov. Nathan Deal is at 2 p.m. in the state Capitol.
U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Savannah, got a mention in a Washington Post column by Dana Milbank this morning. And not in a good way. The scene was a House hearing:
In his opening statement, [Secretary of Defense Robert] Gates fervently appealed for funds requested by Gen. David Petraeus for equipment to protect troops in Afghanistan. The money has been held up because it would come from a project benefiting a major contributor to the committee chairman, Bill Young (R-Fla.).
“Mr. Chairman, our troops need this force-protection equipment, and they need it now,” Gates pleaded. “Every day that goes by without this equipment, the lives of our troops are at greater risk.” He urged action “today” on the funds, admonishing: “We should not put American lives at risk to protect specific programs or contractors.”
The lawmakers, however, had other priorities. The first question to Gates and Mullen proffered by Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), a senior panel member, related to his contention that 18-year-old soldiers “cannot have a beer at the NCO club or whatever.” To remedy this injustice, Kingston said, he introduced legislation so that underage soldiers can drink beer on their posts. He asked the Pentagon to report to him on “how that could be a good idea.”
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider