Published Friday, January 11, 2013

Deal wants to restore cuts to pre-K program, HOPE scholarships

Editorial

The Georgia General Assembly opens its 40-day legislative session Monday under the Gold Dome at the Georgia Capitol in Atlanta. Already we are hearing that approving the state budget will be one of the major challenges facing lawmakers during a year in which Gov. Nathan Deal has warned money is tight.

That said, there was encouraging news from the governor this week when he told an Atlanta television reporter lottery revenue was up, and that he would propose restoring some of the tuition cuts to the lottery-funded HOPE scholarship program.

Earlier Deal has said he wanted to restore prior cuts to the pre-K program, also funded by the Georgia Lottery.

Two years ago dramatic cuts were made in the lottery-funded programs. The state pre-K program was shortened from 180 days to 160 days. A year ago, Deal added back 10 days to pre-K, and he has said he will add the other 10 days back this year. This is important. Pre-K is a vital part of early childhood learning, which means so much to a child’s success in education.

Two years ago full HOPE scholarships were reduced to 90 percent of tuition with no increase in HOPE payments if tuition increased during a student’s college years. Now Deal said he will propose giving HOPE recipients 3 percent more beginning this fall.

“We do have the money in the lottery. We are hopeful it will continue to grow. Maybe we can make even better announcements in years to come,” Deal said.

Georgia’s lottery has been one of the best-run state lotteries in the nation, and our lottery with the big bucks it provides for education has made a difference in education in our state since it was pushed by Gov. Zell Miller.

It’s important for our students -- both pre-K and college -- that Deal recognizes the importance of again adding back to these education programs when funds are available.

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