ATLANTA — Senate Democrats are concerned that a proposal to cut the cash-strapped HOPE scholarship and prekindergarten program is moving too quickly through the Legislature.
They say they will offer their own suggestions for how to fix the programs, which are set to go broke as early as next year. Last week, Gov. Nathan Deal unveiled his plan, including cutting HOPE scholarships for most recipients and scaling pre-k back to a half day.
The plan has backing from House Democrats, including Minority Leader Stacey Abrams. But Senate Democrats say they were left out of the conversations and felt blindsided by Deal’s proposal.
Deal’s spokesman, Brian Robinson, said the governor has worked “in a bipartisan fashion to save Georgia’s lottery funded programs for future generations.” He said the governor has two hours each day where legislators can sign up to talk with him and express concerns.
“It’s far-fetched to believe that a handful of Senate Democrats are the only people in the Capitol who don’t know that,” Robinson said.
Deal announced the plan last Tuesday and the bill moved at lightning speed through a subcommittee and a full committee by week’s end. It was passed Tuesday in the House by a 152-22 vote.
Abrams said Monday she also thinks the bill is moving too quickly and that the Senate Democrats are justified in feeling left out of the process. She said Democrats in both chambers have the same goal — to preserve HOPE.
“Speed is important but the speed at which we are moving is unnecessary,” Abrams said.