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Governor Deal’s Education-Related Vetos

Below are education related bills that were vetoed on May 3, 2016. Click here to go to the Governor’s site on the bills that were vetoed.

1. Veto Number 6
HB659 at its core requires greater public transparency of financial information on both the local system and individual school levels. By doing so, parents, students, teachers, and members of the community will become more knowledgeable and engaged in the strategic planning process and daily operation of our state’s schools. Because of this, I will include the fiscal transparency measures of House Bill 659 in my 2017 legislative agenda, in addition to the recommendations from the Education Reform Commission.

However, language in House Bill 659 also authorizes the Georgia Department of Education to conduct a pilot program wherein local school systems may spend and report federal, state, and local funds in a consolidated manner. I strongly believe that the majority of decisions should remain in the hands of those closest to our state’s students, and I have made it a priority to promote this type of flexibility. But with increased flexibility, must come increased transparency. While I support the consolidated spending of funds, which is currently allowed by law, I cannot support legislation that would allow districts to not disclose how such funds are spent. For these reasons, I VETO HB 659.

2. Veto Number 9

HB859 seeks to amend O.C.G.A. § 16-11-127.1, which relates to the carrying of weapons within school safety zones. It would add an exception to the prohibition of carrying or possessing a weapon in such school zones, to “any licensed holder when he or she is in any building or on real property owned or leased to any public technical school, vocational school, college or university or other public institution of postsecondary education,” except for “buildings or property used for athletic sporting events or student housing, including, but not limited to fraternity and sorority houses…” … (please click here for total text) From the early days of our nation and state, colleges have been treated as sanctuaries of learning where firearms have not been allowed. To depart from such time honored protections should require overwhelming justification. I do not find that such justification exists. Therefore, I VETO HB 859.

3. Veto Number 11

HB959 is a comprehensive piece of legislation that, in its original form, sought to eliminate duplicative testing requirements for dually enrolled, AP, and IB students, encourage inter-agency cooperation, and clean-up other portions of Title 20, which I support. However, during the legislative process, language was added to the bill that mirrored the language found in Senate Bill 329, which I have vetoed for the reasons stated in my message for that bill. As research has demonstrated time and again, high school students with rigorous course loads are more likely to succeed in college, and considering the rich tradition of the HOPE Scholarship as a merit-based program, I VETO HB 959.

4. Veto Number 15

Senate Bill 329 adjusts the established coursework rigor requirements of the HOPE Scholarship, and allows the State Board of the Technical College System of Georgia to identify strategic workforce needs for the purpose of updating technical college certificate program requirements. Since its establishment in 1993, the HOPE Scholarship program has provided Georgia’s highest achieving students the means to receive a postsecondary credential, regardless of their family’s financial situation. Through HOPE, the state recognizes and rewards students based on individual merit, and merit alone. Shortly after taking office, I was given the choice between reform and the bankruptcy of the HOPE program. It was clear to me then, as it is still clear to me now, the direction our revered HOPE program should take. Not only did these reforms we put in place in 2011 place our Lottery, HOPE, and Pre-K programs back on a solid financial footing, but we also were able to reaffirm our commitment to our college completion, access and achievement goals. Research has demonstrated time and again that high school students with rigorous course loads are more likely to succeed in college. The academic rigor requirements put in place, which required our Georgia high school students to take advanced math, science, Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate/Dual Enrollment courses andforeign language courses, will be phased in with full implementation of four credits in each category in 2017.

What concerns me about Senate Bill 329, which would allow students who achieve their high school diploma by obtaining a technical college diploma or two technical college certificates to become eligible for the HOPE Scholarship, is that these students will likely not meet the rigor requirements put into place by our reform efforts. By not requiring such students to satisfy the same coursework rigor requirements as students on other pathways to high school graduation, we could unintentionally increase the likelihood that a group of students are unprepared for degree-level coursework, and are therefore more likely to lose the HOPE or Zell Miller Scholarship in the future.

Under current law, students eligible for the HOPE or Zell Miller Grant, including those targeted by Senate Bill 329 who achieve a high school diploma by obtaining a technical college diploma or two technical college certificates, may become eligible for the HOPE Scholarship by completing 30 semester hours or 45 quarter hours with a 3.0 GPA at their postsecondary institution. This means that we are not blocking any student from achieving their highest academic potential in current law, rather, we are ensuring that each student finds success in whichever pathway they choose to follow. For these reasons, I VETO SB329.

5. Veto Number 16

Senate Bill 355 allows federal, state and locally-mandated assessments to be optional for certain students. At present, local school districts have the flexibility to determine opt-out procedures for its students who cannot take the assessments in addition to those who choose not to take such assessments. As there is no need for state-level intervention in addition to the regulations already set in place on a local level, I VETO SB 355.