Democrats ask Haslam to block GOP attempts to slash HOPE scholarships

Democrats ask Haslam to block GOP attempts to slash HOPE scholarships

March 5th, 2012 by Andy Sher in Local - Breaking News

Republican Governor Bill Haslam is pictured in this file photo.

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

NASHVILLE - Top House and Senate Democrats today called on Republican Gov. Bill Haslam to block GOP legislative efforts they say would slash more than 5,000 lottery-funded college scholarships.

"This legislation is short-sighted, unnecessary and harmful to our students and our economy," said Senate Minority Leader Jim Kyle, D-Memphis. "The governor has stated that college isn't for everyone, but that it needs to be for a lot more Tennesseans."

Kyle said that, under the bill, which toughens qualifications for students receiving HOPE scholarships, "college will be something else for thousands of Tennesseans. It will be out of reach."

Republican Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey and Senate Education Committee Chairman Delores Gresham, R-Somerville, said the bill is needed because the lottery is currently running a deficit.

But Democratic critics said lottery revenues are up $10 million over projections so far this year and that the crisis is overstated. The lottery's $300 million-plus in reserves can tide the program over for at least two decades, they said.

For complete details, see tomorrow's Times Free Press.