Georgia Republicans Kill HOPE

They're so focused on building a casino, they've ignored the consequences.

Scripture says you cannot serve God and Mammon and Georgia Republicans are proving this is true. For those of you not in my state, you should consider this as a lesson on what happens when Republicans get so focused on a goal, they ignore the consequences.

Former Governor Zell Miller created the HOPE scholarship in Georgia. This scholarship covers much of the collegiate costs of students who make good grades. It is not means-tested so any child, rich or poor, based on their own academic achievement, can go to college.

The demand for HOPE has grown so much that the state continues to look for new ways to fund it. Originally, the lottery funded it. Then scratch off games were added. For some time, the state has flirted with casino gambling and horse racing.

Lobbyists have flooded the state for a few years to make it happen. Each year it has been killed.

Well, the GOP really wants casinos now. They want money. They don’t care about the data or research. They have structured their approach to casinos in a way that will kill local entertainment venues and restaurants. Specifically, they want the casinos to guarantee revenue from music and dining, which will incentivize casinos taking business that would otherwise go to places like the Fox Theater or the Georgia Theater or Macon Auditorium.

Their claim has been that regardless of the costs, it would generate new revenue to keep HOPE alive. Except today, the House GOP in Georgia unveiled their casino plan. They needed Democrat votes to get it passed and they want the casino more than they want the HOPE Scholarship.

So they agreed to no longer use casino funds for the HOPE Scholarship. They took legislation from the Georgia Senate, stripped it of its language, and added a new measure. Instead of shoring up funding for the HOPE Scholarship, the House Republicans will shore up the state’s emergency fund, then create a new scholarship to compete with HOPE. This one will be means-tested, per Democrat demands.

The irony here is that if they just poured all the money into HOPE, the poor kids who could take advantage of the new scholarship would be able to use HOPE. But the Democrats want a new scholarship that structures education based on class divide. HOPE had always been based on the merit of the students, not their parents’ income. This new fund ends that and takes vital money away from HOPE.

House Republicans, at this point, are far more focused on the casinos than the scholarships and will do anything to get the casinos — even killing HOPE.

David Ralston, the House Speaker, has become Lieutenant Colonel Nicholson, committed to his bridge over the Kwai, damn the consequences. If this passes, it will be the beginning of the end of the HOPE scholarship. But the GOP no longer cares so long as they get their casino built.