LETTERS: Governor failed to show leadership with HOPE fix plan

Gov. Nathan Deal’s plan to save the HOPE Scholarship deserves a failing grade. Yes, HOPE should be continued and it needs to be modified, but the governor’s plan fails to address the main cause of HOPE going broke.

The real problems are the out-of-control increases in tuition and fees coupled with grade inflation in primary and secondary schools. The cost of a college education has exploded far ahead of the rate of inflation over the past 20 years, depleting the ever-growing lottery funding designed to support it. Put another way, government keeps spending more money than it takes in by increasing layers of bureaucracy and exploding pay and benefit packages. This fix will be short-lived if the state does not rein in the exponential growth in the cost of public sector post-secondary education.

Admittedly, one of the reasons costs have exploded is HOPE itself. With the promise of more and more students enrolled at little or no personal expense, the university system has grown tremendously, getting fattened like a hog on the slop of taxpayer dollars. Meanwhile, the public school systems in Georgia keep pushing out B-average students at rates exceeding periods before HOPE existed. Is it possible that administrators are “looking the other way” while teachers facilitate the HOPE gold rush by reducing standards so that more students will qualify for HOPE?

A better solution to the problem would be to cut the fat out of the university system and tie spending increases to the rate of inflation. Additional cost control could be facilitated by limiting the promise of HOPE to a finite percentage of Georgia students. This could be accomplished by raising the grade requirement from a 3.0 to a 3.2 or 3.5 average. The governor’s proposal to limit HOPE funding to 127 credit hours is about the only smart idea in this fix.

If our state and country are going to survive and flourish, we need to take bold steps to solve the problems created by big government and an entitlement mind-set. Deal has missed a golden opportunity to lead with his failure to think outside the box with his HOPE Scholarship fix. I’m disappointed.

— John T. Rexhausen