Gwinnett Technical College students
Governor Nathan Deal with other Republican leaders and Democratic House leaders
Rep. Stacey Evans (D-Smyrna)
Georgia State Senate Minority Leader Sen. Steve Henson (D-Tucker)
ATLANTA, Ga. -- There was some good news for thousands of Georgia's technical college students Thursday.
In a rare show of bipartisanship, Governor Nathan Deal and other Republican leaders shared the stage with Democratic leaders from the State House.
He wholeheartedly endorsed their idea to lower the Grade Point Average (GPA) requirement for technical college HOPE Grants from 3.0 back to 2.0.
That's where it was before flat lottery proceeds and soaring enrollment forced cuts in the popular HOPE Scholarship and HOPE Grant program in 2011.
But after years of rising, technical college enrollment has dropped off dramatically since then.
State Representative Stacey Evans (D-Smyrna) will shepherd a bipartisan House bill to make it easier for technical college students to get and keep the tuition help.
"The difference between having the grant and not having the grant is the difference between their ticket to the middle class and not," Evans told reporters at a joint news conference in Governor Deal's office.
Senate Democratic leaders, who announced a more ambitions HOPE plan on Wednesday, were partially pleased.
"Well, the Governor certainly did a great thing here today and I applaud him for it, but it doesn't go far enough," Senate Minority Leader Steve Henson (D-Tucker) told 11 Alive News.
In addition to lowering the HOPE Grant GPA back to 2.0, Henson and other Senate Democrats want the normal HOPE Scholarship tuition reimbursement restored to 100% and the top 3% of public high school graduates to be eligible for the full Zell Miller HOPE.
But Governor Deal said that's going too far.
"I am not willing to do things that would put us back in a posture of being on the brink of bankruptcy again," Deal told 11 Alive.
The Governor is proposing a 3% increase in the HOPE Scholarship tuition reimbursement, which was lowered to 90% last year.
But that's about all four year college and university students can expect until lottery revenues improve even more.