Archive for the ‘HOPE scholarship’ Category

Your morning jolt: Nathan Deal dismisses talk of lottery-driven casinos

At the tail end of this 10-minute interview with Denis O’Hayer of WABE (90.1FM), Gov. Nathan Deal dismissed last week’s talk by some state lawmakers who are entertaining the idea of lottery-fueled casinos to prop up the HOPE scholarship:

”I don’t like the idea of casinos in Georgia. Now, I recognize that we have some long-term problems with funding for the full HOPE program. But I do believe that as the economy begins to turn around, we will see the revenues from our traditional lottery program rise again….

“This is something that the lottery commission will have to make a judgment call about. But I think we have to be very careful we do not put in place something that, for all intents and purposes, appears to be casinos.

Deal acknowledged that the Georgia Lottery Corporation might not need his approval to proceed:

I’m not sure that it would take legislation. That’s a legal question that has been raised. I haven’t received a definitive answer on that yet.

***
Five Republican …

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State lottery board study: Three casinos could bring nearly $1 billion by 2014

Three casinos in metro Atlanta, Savannah and Jekyll Island, equipped with 10,000 video lottery terminals, could generate nearly $1 billion a year for the state as quickly as 2014, according to a daring, 84-page report requested and received by the Georgia Lottery Corporation.

It may be the first time a state entity has, in an official paper, broached the possibility of establishing state-licensed gambling houses in Georgia.

The $91,000 study was quietly handed to Gov. Nathan Deal last week. Just returned from a trip to China, the governor has yet to review it, a spokesman said Wednesday.

Which means you can read it before the governor does by clicking here. (Journalistic compadres: You, too, can download the report. But please credit this newspaper.)

A casino industry representative browses through rows of new slot machines on display at the industry's G2E conference earlier this month in Las Vegas. AP/Julie Jacobson

A casino industry representative browses through rows of new slot machines on display at the industry’s G2E conference earlier this month in Las Vegas. AP/Julie Jacobson

In metro Atlanta, the report gauged the potential …

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In search of a green light on video scratch-off games

Dave Garrett is a man in search of a wink. If he must, he will settle for a discreet nod.

Two weeks ago, the Atlanta real estate developer launched a campaign to persuade the Georgia Lottery Corporation to embrace video lottery terminals across the state and restore the HOPE scholarship program to its former, 3.0 grade-point glory.

Video terminals could boost scratch-off games, former lottery board chairman Dave Garrett argues. AJC file

Video terminals could boost scratch-off games, former lottery board chairman Dave Garrett argues. AJC file

The video terminals would supplement the scratch-off business now done in convenience stores and elsewhere. Strong evidence indicates that electronic delivery results in increased sales.

Critics are sure to condemn Garrett’s idea as an expansion of gambling. The word “casino” is, in fact, his worst enemy. But the developer and his friends point to the other side of the coin — the contraction of the HOPE scholarship and pre-k programs.

Facing flat lottery revenues and increased demand, Gov. Nathan Deal and the General Assembly this year approved …

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The hardball game for HOPE statistics

The restructuring of the HOPE scholarship, which reduces the award for all but Georgia’s brightest college students, has been sent to Gov. Nathan Deal by the Legislature.

There will be talk of the bipartisan effort that produced it. And much of what will be said is true. But there was a spirited game of Republican hardball beneath those negotiations.

Only today – after the voting was over — did the state Department of Audits make public a study of the income demographics of families that receive the HOPE scholarships. Says the audit:

“This data was provided to the requestor in January 2011 to facilitate the analysis of various policy and funding alternatives for the program during the 2011 legislative session.”

The requestor was the Senate Appropriations Committee, which is under GOP control. Senate Democrats say they eventually saw the data – but not until Feb. 25. The numbers became the basis of their argument for an income cap on the families of HOPE recipients. From the …

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The HOPE scholarship and Jason Carter’s debut

State Sen. Jason Carter, D-Decatur, defends two of his amendments during Tuesday's HOPE scholarship debate. Both lost. AP/John Amis

State Sen. Jason Carter, D-Decatur, defends two of his amendments during Tuesday's HOPE scholarship debate. Both lost. AP/John Amis

After more than four hours of debate, Gov. Nathan Deal’s legislation to alter some of the basic premises of the HOPE scholarship passed the Senate on a heavily partisan 35-20 vote this evening.

The House is expected to agree to all changes and give final passage on Thursday. We’ll let others cover the main points.

Democrats never stood a chance of stopping the legislation, but they have reason to remain upbeat. They were able to force Republicans to concede a number of changes to the bill. Perhaps more important, the HOPE debate saw the rise of two new Democratic leaders.

On the House side, newly elected House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams of Atlanta took a chance and negotiated directly with the governor over many points previously enumerated here.

In the Senate, the HOPE debate on Tuesday saw the debut of Jason Carter of Decatur, who took office …

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Senate Republicans offer full HOPE ride for top two grads from each high school

The debate continues, but Senate Republicans are attempting to forge a bipartisan passage of Gov. Nathan Deal’s HOPE scholarship legislation by adding language to guarantee full-ride scholarships for the valedictorian and salutatorian – the No. 1 and No. 2 graduates — in every high school in Georgia.

Debate on the bill began more than an hour ago.

“Let’s keep these people at home – the first and second person in each class. Let’s keep them in Georgia society,” said state Sen. Bill Cowsert, R-Athens. Cowsert gave credit for the idea to state Sen. Lester Jackson, a Democrat from Savannah.

Cowsert said that, in committee Jackson raised the “possible unintended racial bias” that would result from restrict what is to become the Zell Miller Scholarship to those students with a 3.7 grade point average and a 1200 SAT score.

A spokesman for the governor said Deal was in favor of the alteration.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter, or connect …

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On eve of HOPE vote: Auditors uphold larger lottery payouts, note nearly $2 million in bonuses

On the eve of a Senate debate over the future of the lottery-fueled HOPE scholarship, state auditors have upheld the Georgia Lottery Corporation’s strategy of paying out more in prizes – even if it means sending less than 35 percent of revenue to the state, as suggested by legislation.

The audit also found that the Lottery Corporation paid out nearly $2 million in bonuses in the year that ended last July, in a climate of teacher layoffs and state pay freezes.

Among six states that offered bonus pay to CEOs or directors, the payments ranged from $8,000 in Illinois to $150,000 in Georgia – where Margaret R. DeFrancisco is president and CEO. “The incentive pay awarded to GLC’s chief executive officer was larger than any counterpart in the survey,” the audit reported.

The examination was conducted at the request of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Read the entire audit here. Some excerpts from the executive summary:

Over the last 14 years, [the Georgia Lottery Corporation’s] …

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A county-by-county look at Senate Democrat plan for HOPE

The Senate Rules Committee just put HB 326, the bill containing changes to the HOPE scholarship, on the Tuesday calendar for a full floor vote.

There have been signs, however faint, of GOP wavering in the Senate. Some of the credit for raising doubt goes to state Sen. Jason Carter, D-Decatur, who has sent out individual letters to all 55 of his colleagues — laying out how many students in each of their counties would retain full HOPE coverage under the Democratic plan.

Democrats are advocating an income cap that would restrict HOPE grants to families that earn under $140,000.

See the county-by-county spreadsheet here. Clearly, rural Georgia would benefit more under an income cap.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter, or connect with me on Facebook.

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Nathan Deal’s pre-K reversal as vindication for Stacey Abrams’ policy of engagement

House Democratic Leader Stacey Abrams of Atlanta took some heat last month when she sat down with Gov. Nathan Deal to negotiate cuts to the HOPE scholarship.

Today, she’s pointing to Deal’s reversal on funding for pre-K cuts as vindication of her policy of engagement.

The first words of the governor’s announcement this morning were: “Following bipartisan negotiations…”

The Democratic response from Abrams’ office:

Through an ongoing dialogue with Democrats, Republicans and pre-K advocates, Gov. Nathan Deal agreed to amend his proposal to restore a 6 ½ hour pre-K day for four year olds.

The measure will reduce the number of school days from 180 to 160 and change class size from 20 to 22, with a maximum of 11 to 1 ratio. The proposal would increase by 2,000 the number of pre-K slots.

Abrams and state Rep. Stephanie Stuckey Benfield, D-Atlanta, both stood with Deal at the morning announcement – and both supported Deal’s cuts to the HOPE program.

“I see the two issues as separate – …

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Your morning jolt: Girl Scouts ticked over cookie tax

Be prepared, lawmakers.

Over the weekend, an e-mail went out to Girl Scout leaders, warning them that HB 385, a bill to rewrite the state tax code, would subject their cookies to a sales tax – and would hit Boy Scout popcorn sales as well:

girlscoutday.0216 JC1

Gov. Nathan Deal holds boxes of Girl Scout cookies as the young women kicked off their sales season last month. Johnny Crawford/Jcrawford@ajc.com

This significant financial impact would take money away from Girl Scout programs, camp support, financial aid and proceeds from the sale that support troop activities and community service projects…

…[P]lease contact your State House Representative and State Senator TODAY and express your concern in a courteous, Scout-like manner about our Scouts being taxed. Please reference House Bill 385. Sample letters have been provided on the left to make it easy to copy and paste into your own email. There are sample letters for girls as well as for parents and volunteers.

The message appears over the …

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