Gov. proposes 3% increase in HOPE

Updated:

Gov. Nathan Deal will propose more money for the state’s HOPE Scholarship program when the 2013 General Assembly convenes, Channel 2 political reporter Lori Geary has learned.
ATLANTA —

Gov. Nathan Deal will propose more money for the state’s HOPE Scholarship program when the 2013 General Assembly convenes, Channel 2 political reporter Lori Geary has learned.

Deal said that he intends to give HOPE recipients 3 percent more toward their tuition starting with the fall semester.

The governor told Geary that lottery revenues, which fund the program, are growing, allowing for the expense. 

“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.

Two years ago Deal made drastic cuts to the scholarship programs. Students who had full scholarships suddenly only received 90 percent of their tuition. The state also decided that it would not pay out more if tuition increased.

Georgia’s pre-K program was sliced as well, shortened to just 160 days. Last year, the governor added 10 days back to the calendar and he intends to add another 10 this year to bring it back to a full school year.

“It’s an indication that the pre-K program is working. Our pre-k teachers will get a raise,” Deal said.

Deal also talked to Geary about other topics that will be debated in this year’s legislative session, including the Falcons' new stadium and gun control.

Deal had no comment on any proposed weapon legislation but said, “It is a time that is fraught with emotion from both sides of the issue.”

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The governor said that he has heard the proposed gun control legislation but none of the bills are part of his agenda for 2013.

Deal said the Atlanta Falcons will have some work to do if they want to convince lawmakers.

“It’s a meritorious project,” Deal said of getting the bill passed.

The Falcons are hoping to use bonds from a hotel/motel bed tax to fund $300 million dollars of the estimated $1 billion stadium cost.

“The infusion of a billion dollars in construction will provide jobs and economic activity. That will not only be good for the city of Atlanta but also the state of Georgia as a whole," Deal said. "Then again there are other considerations that have to be addressed in terms of whether or not the General Assembly will increase the bonding capacity for the Georgia World Congress Center Authority,” Deal said.

The first day of the 2013 legislative session is Monday.