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Friday, June 24, 2016

NOTES FROM THE SENATE, JUNE 24, 2016

SMALL HOPE CHANGES AND SMALLER BOND PROJECTS HIGHLIGHT SESSION AND FY 2017 BUDGET/BOND SALE

While there is not usually a large volume of legislation addressing Higher Education, any changes to the HOPE Scholarship draws a lot of attention. The 2016 General Assembly saw two bills affecting the HOPE Scholarship and only a couple of others. There is always a lot of interest in the Regents and Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) Bond package as the Governor puts in some projects from the Regents and TCSG priority lists and the Legislature adds an agreed-upon $50 million each in bonds that will include some projects from both lists. What has become evident is that large capital projects will not be funded by the Legislature, which is restricted by the $50 million cap. So consequently, small cap projects, those less than $5 million, have become the currency of the day and we are now even seeing 2-phase small cap projects....Who'd a thought it.

HIGHER EDUCATION LEGISLATION

HB 801-Beginning with the 2017-18 school year, the cumulative grade point average to maintain the HOPE Scholarship will include weighted grades for certain science, technology, engineering and math college courses. Those will be chosen by the Board of Regents in consultation with the Technical College System. This weight will result in a 0.5 increase in the student's final grade if that grade is a B, C or D. After the 2017-18 school year, the Student Finance Commission will provide a biennial report to the chairs of the House and Senate Higher Education Committees.

HB 54-Gives Georgia taxpayers the opportunity to make charitable contributions to the Georgia Student Finance Authority to provide financial assistance for postsecondary education costs of the children of law enforcement officers, firefighters, paramedics, emergency medical technical technicians, prison guards and HERO responders on the highway, any of whom are permanently disabled or killed in the line of duty. Beginning on January 1, 2017, the Department of Driver Services issuing licenses or renewals will insert language on forms to offer the opportunity for citizens to contribute $1, $5 or $10.

HB 798-Changes the Zell Miller scholarship eligibility for homeschool graduates to a score in the 93rd percentile on the ACT or combined critical reading and math portions of the SAT, and the HOPE scholarship eligibility to a score in the 75th percentile on the ACT or SAT. This makes homeschool graduates equally eligible with other high school graduates to receive the HOPE/Zell Miller scholarships, which would allow them the opportunity to have their tuition paid at the beginning of each semester and not retroactively.


HIGHER EDUCATION FUNDING IN THE FY 2017 BUDGET

$43.5 Million-To the Board of Regents (BOR) for enrollment and facility needs.

$10.5 Million-For InvestGeorgia and the Advanced Technology Center at Georgia Tech to continue incubating new high technology firms and help keep them in Georgia when they enter the marketplace.

$29.4 Million-Funds "Move On When Ready" for both colleges and technical schools to increase the number of dual enrolled high school students and those earning skill certificates and diplomas for the workplace.
Starts and renews a serviceable cancelable loan program for veterinarians and members of the Georgia National Guard.

$891,484-To fund growth in the Technical College System.

$185,970,000-For Regents Institutions.

$25,620,000-In bonds for BOR attached entities, such as Agricultural Experiment Station, Cooperative Extension, Rock Eagle 4-H, Libraries, and Georgia Public Telecommunications Commission.

$128,895,000- In bonds for buildings, renovations and equipment for Technical College System institutions.

HIGHER EDUCATION BONDS SOLD JUNE 8

The June 8 bond sale listed $287 million is for University System projects including $10.3m for Columbus State, $19.8m for Albany State, $27.6m for Georgia Southern, $18.9m for West Georgia, $29.3m for University of North Georgia and $17.7m for Highlands College.

TCSG received $126 million including $10m for career academies, $48.2m for the new Hall County campus, $16.1m for Southern Crescent Technical College, and $12.5m for North GA Technical College, Clarksville.

Full transcripts of bills may be found at http://www.legis.ga.gov/en-US/default.aspx. Simply type the bill number into the box at the top left-hand corner of the screen and specify if it is in the House or the Senate. The FY 2017 budget (H.B. 751) may be found at http://www.senate.ga.gov/sbeo/en-US/AppropriationsDocuments.aspx. As always, I welcome any questions you may have.

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