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March 8--  Today, the Georgia State Senate passed House Bill 326, Governor Nathan Deal’s HOPE bill 35-20. The bill was amended to allow all valedictorians and salutatorians from all Georgia schools to be eligible for the Zell Miller Scholarship and establishes a low interest loan program that will help students presently covered under HOPE  bridge the gap between actual tuition cost and costs covered by HOPE once the bill is enacted. 


Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers (R-Woodstock) issued the following statement:


“Today, we took a monumental step in preserving HOPE for future generations of Georgia students. We must continue to support freedom in educational choice for our youth by refusing to let the high cost of education keep them from the school of their choice. The economy of our state, the future of Georgia businesses, communities and families depend on our ability to keep our best and brightest students in our state by offering them a great education and a way to pay for it,” said Sen. Rogers “I applaud Governor Deal, as well as members of the House and Senate, for working diligently to make saving HOPE a priority this session. Working together, we will ensure the legacy of HOPE benefits all future generations.”


Governor Nathan Deal issued the following statement regarding the passage of HB 326:


“I have worked closely with members of the Senate to find common ground on how best to save this important program. Any reforms to the HOPE scholarship require careful consideration because Georgians care deeply about this issue, and we are proud that our HOPE program holds national prominence. Senators understand our choice on lottery-funded programs is not between reform and the status quo; our state’s choice is between reform and bankruptcy. Senators have played an important role from Day 1 on negotiating the best plan, and today they courageously did the right thing for our state.”


“Sen. Rogers, along with other leaders in the Senate, has played an important role not only in crafting this legislation but also in working to build a broad consensus to get it passed. This team effort has allowed us to educate Georgians all across the state on the crisis we face in our lottery-funded programs. With the leadership of Sen. Rogers and others, the Senate has passed a responsible bill that will maintain the most generous state education benefits in the nation for the next generation of Georgians.”


The revised bill now goes back to the House for approval.