Update Posted March 15, 2011
Governor Signs HOPE Legislation into Law
Gov. Nathan Deal signed into law Tuesday the HOPE legislation that he championed as the centerpiece of his initial legislative agenda.
“With today’s signing, we have closed a $300 million shortfall in the next year, we have pulled HOPE and Georgia pre-K from the brink of bankruptcy and we have preserved our state’s elite status for having the most generous benefit programs in the nation,” Deal said. “Georgians are blessed to have legislative leaders who put aside politics to craft a new law of generational importance.”
The governor made saving HOPE a key priority and the final legislation hewed closely to the bill as originally introduced.
The University System strongly supported the proposed changes, which the governor titled “Enduring HOPE,” through testimony at legislative hearings, statements to the news media, and comments by Chancellor Erroll Davis Jr. and members of the Board of Regents at various public events to which they were invited to speak.
As Davis noted in the University System’s official statement on the HOPE legislation, “I commend Gov. Deal, the Lt. Gov, the Speaker, and the members of the General Assembly for the seriousness with which the HOPE program has been discussed and the overall fairness of the changes recommended. All have been asked to sacrifice some in order that HOPE endures for all.”
Regent Dink NeSmith’s remarks to the Oconee County Rotary Club typified the efforts made by the System to both explain and support the recommendations. NeSmith went through the legislation and answered questions from club members.
“This proposal works to maintain access to postsecondary education for all Georgians,” NeSmith said in his remarks to the group.
As the legislation was discussed, the University System kept up a steady stream of information and data to meet the requests by legislative committees and individual legislators as well as the news media.
In many cases, USG officials went back to data to generate new reports that detailed the savings to be realized through the proposals as well as the costs associated with various amendments and counter proposals.
“We wanted to be sure that everyone had the correct information needed to discuss the legislation,” said Senior Vice Chancellor for External Affairs Thomas Daniel. “We were extremely supportive of the changes and salute Gov. Deal and the legislature for this remarkable and critical accomplishment.”