In an overwhelming and bipartisan 152-22 vote, the Georgia House today passed Gov. Nathan Deal's HOPE bill after including the governor's amendment that would make it easier for Zell Miller Scholars to keep their full benefit package.
"Members of the House have worked with me in a bipartisan way to strengthen this bill even further," Deal said. "The legislative process is working effectively. We've put together the right piece of legislation that keeps our programs among the most generous in the nation while placing them on firm financial footing. Today, we are one step closer to ensuring that HOPE endures for Georgia's best and brightest and pre-k continues to prepare 4-year-old Georgians for educational excellence."
Deal credited Speaker David Ralston's leadership for building a broad coalition of support for the legislation. Nearly every Republican in the House and two-thirds of Democrats voted yes.
"This is a realistic and sensible approach to preserve HOPE for today and tomorrow's young Georgians," said House Speaker David Ralston. "I applaud Governor Deal for taking action and leading on one of the most important issues the General Assembly will address this year because doing nothing was not an option."
The House worked with the governor to lower the GPA minimum that Zell Miller Scholars must maintain while in college to maintain the full benefit package. Under the House-passed legislation, Zell Miller Scholars must keep at least a 3.3 grade point average, as opposed to the 3.5 requirement in the original bill. Deal wanted to bring the standards more closely in line with the honors program requirements at our state's major research institutions.
"We want to do everything we can to keep Georgia's best and brightest in school with the full benefit package, while still creating incentives for students to work hard and go above and beyond."