Bill forcing more lottery money for HOPE scholarships, pre-k gets new life

A bill that would force the Georgia Lottery to put more money into the state’s popular HOPE scholarship and pre-k programs got new life Tuesday when senators voted to attach the stalled measure to another piece of legislation.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Cowsert, R-Athens, added the measure onto a House Bill 714, which, among other things, lowered the requirement of home schooled students who are eligible to receive the state’s HOPE scholarship as a Zell Miller scholar.

The bill was amended to require the lottery to transfer a specific percentage of its revenue to the state every year for HOPE and pre-k: 26.5 percent in Fiscal 18, 27.5 in FY 19 and 28.5 percent every year after.

Cowsert ushered Senate Bill 5 through the chamber last year, though it stalled in the House. Cowsert has long been critical of the lottery’s administrative costs.

State law encourages the lottery to return about 35 percent of ticket sales to the education programs, although that is not a mandate and the lottery’s current return rate is about 25.5 percent.

The bill cleared the Senate on the same day that memorial services were held in Atlanta for former Gov. Zell Miller, known as the HOPE scholarship. 

Miller was brought to the Capitol to lie in state in the rotunda Tuesday. An executive state funeral will be held at the Capitol for Miller at 11 a.m. Wednesday.

Since senators changed the legislation it will be considered again by the House before it can head to Gov. Nathan Deal for his approval.

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