That Tuition Increase and Other Riveting University System of Georgia News

In case you were working on an end-of-semester project, sleeping off a hangover, or just disconnected from all things public college in this state, tuition is going to go up 2 percent for the 2017-2018 academic year. That should work out to between $27 and $98 per semester for full-time, in-state undergraduates, depending on the college or university.

Don’t worry, exactly zero dollars and zero cents will be added to my salary (or almost any other professor’s salary) from this increase!

The Chancellor and the Board of Regents have to say things like “we thank the General Assembly that we were graciously allowed to raise costs,” and probably it’s not smart for an untenured, assistant professor (who is a librarian, nonetheless) to point out reality, but as costs to educate increase, our funding has to come from somewhere, and it’s almost assuredly not going to come from state appropriations. Continue reading “That Tuition Increase and Other Riveting University System of Georgia News”

Board of Regents heavy handing GSU gun range out of use

The Georgia Southern Shooting Sports Education Center was a much anticipated draw for the community by way of a collaborative effort of state and local agencies with the help of private donors, but after seventeen months in operation, the facility does not have much to show for the effort. And neither do the taxpayers.

Based on information provided by the University, the center was built with Georgia Southern University considers private funds. $6 million broken down by these “private” donors:

  • The Georgia Department of Natural Resources – Wildlife Resources Division: $3.3 million (through a grant which was secured by DNR)
  • Georgia Southern University/ University System – $1.5 million
  • Easton Sports Development Foundation – $500,000
  • The City of Statesboro – $500,000
  • The Archery Trade Association – $200,000 for operating costs

Continue reading “Board of Regents heavy handing GSU gun range out of use”

Casinos: Georgia Is Leaving Significant Money On The Table

Two weeks ago I wrote a column debunking the thought that we don’t have significant legalized wagering going on already in Georgia. We do, and it’s available at every corner store, fully backed by the Georgia constitution, and sanctioned and governed by the Georgia Lottery Corporation.

We’re more than a little pregnant on the issue.  We have institutionalized legal gaming in Georgia.  This fact is not debatable. It is a settled question.

Open for debate is how to spend the revenue generated by a new tax on gaming revenue.  The original bill dedicated all the money to the HOPE scholarship fund.  Newer versions of gaming bills include money to ensure HOPE loses no ground, but include projects such as needs-based college scholarships, rural healthcare, and rural broadband.  This debate is wide open, and everything seems to be on the table.

In between is the most important question that is being debated but has a clear answer:  Is the state financially better off by legalizing casinos in a limited “destination resort” format?  The answer is yes. Continue reading “Casinos: Georgia Is Leaving Significant Money On The Table”

Gaming In Georgia Already A Settled Question

This week’s Courier Herald column:

One of the biggest battles developing in the Georgia General Assembly this year is over the revival of a proposal to bring full scale casino gaming to the Peach State. The measure, which has been revised to bring two “destination resort” casinos, requires a change to the state’s constitution, and thus two thirds each of the Georgia House and Senate.

There are many with religious reservations to allowing this to become the law of the state. The origins of their position should be respected. There are a small handful of ministers in the legislature – and a couple more members that should be. They’re not going to be found in the “yes” column if and when this measure comes to a vote. This is stipulated.

The reality is, however, that the question before the Georgia General Assembly is not a moral one, but one of missed opportunity and diminishing tax revenues. The moral question was answered by voters in November 1992 when a constitutional amendment was passed creating the Georgia Lottery Corporation. Almost 60 Billion has been wagered legally in the state of Georgia since that time, legally. It has all been done through a state sponsored monopoly. Continue reading “Gaming In Georgia Already A Settled Question”

Augusta, Columbus Back In Revised Casino Bill

This years bill to allow for “Destination Resort” casino gaming was introduced as a paired down, more focused alternative to last year’s proposal that would have allowed as many as seven licenses to be issued throughout the state. We covered the bill in detail here.

At the bill’s first Senate hearing, sponsor Brandon Beach of Alpharetta has allowed the county population threshold for the second casino license to be lowered from 250,000 to 200,000. Aaron G Sheinin of the AJC explains the change:

We’ve changed that from a 250,000 population to 200,000, so Columbus has a chance and Augusta has a chance,” he said, adding that he will present a new version of the bill to the committee Thursday.

Beach’s decision is a smart one, said state Rep. Calvin Smyre, D-Columbus, a top co-sponsor of House Bill 158, an identical House version of Beach’s bill.

“It’s more acceptable,” Smyre said of Beach’s revision. “We all know the main resort will be in the metro area, but economic development ought to spread throughout the state.”

There’s also a change in where the revenues would go. Instead of 70% of proceeds going to HOPE (with 30% going to a new, needs based scholarship fund), rural healthcare is in the mix. More from Sheinin: Continue reading “Augusta, Columbus Back In Revised Casino Bill”

Rep Mandi Ballinger Brings New Campus Carry Bill

Yesterday, Rep Mandi Ballinger (R-Cherokee County) dropped a slightly revised “Campus Carry” bill into the hopper.  The legislature passed a similar bill last year but the measure was vetoed by Governor Nathan Deal.

After the bill was passed last session, the Governor weighed in with a list of concerns.  It was late in session and legislators decided to stand on their work. This year’s bill removes on campus day care centers from the areas where guns would be allowed.

Under the bill, HB 280, only those approved with concealed carry permits would be allowed to bring a gun onto one of Georgia’s public college campuses.  This would mean that only those who have passed a background check and are at least 21 years of age would be packing.

Expect the usual forceful pushback from the University System member institutions. Expect this bill to pass, as many legislators are still a bit miffed about the veto.  And, presuming the Governor believes his concerns have been satisfactorily addressed, expect Rep Ballinger to thread the needle between the powerful forces on both sides of the bill to navigate this one to the Governor’s desk for a signature.

Judge Grants In-State Tuition to Illegal Immigrants

The Fulton County Superior Court ruled today that Georgia residents who have been shielded from deportation by the Obama Administration shall be granted in-state tuition at Georgia public universities.

The Obama Administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program allowed millions of young immigrants to obtain legal status if they illegally entered the United States as a child. Yet the Board of Regents, following a 2008 law passed by the General Assembly, only offers in-state tuition to Georgia residents “legally in this state.”

Fulton County Superior Court Chief Judge Gail Tusan sided with the 10 Georgia DACA recipients who sued, with the assistance of rumored CD6 candidate Charles Kuck, for in-state tuition. Chief Judge Tusan’s decision cited “the federal definition of lawful presence,” indicating that the change will only be extended to those who qualify for the DACA program.

The long-awaited decision could be thrown into further disarray by the incoming Trump Administration, which has taken a hard line on immigration legalization and the prior president’s executive orders. President Trump could overturn DACA with the stroke of a pen, though there’s no clear indication what he’ll do yet. Immigration advocates are advising young illegal immigrants not to apply for DACA, lest the Department of Homeland Security receive their residential information.

The judge did not rule if residents of Alabama are to be granted in-state tuition, despite the widespread belief among Georgians that it is another country entirely.

Two Police Officers Shot at Georgia Southwestern In Americus

UPDATED: The following is a statement from 2nd District Congressman Sanford Bishop

AMERICUS, GA – Today, Congressman Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (GA-02) released the following statement regarding the shooting in Americus, GA:

“This morning in Americus, two law enforcement officers were shot by a gunman near Georgia Southwestern University, which was put on lockdown. One of these officers did not survive his wounds, while the other remains in critical condition. The gunman has been identified and multiple law enforcement agencies are coordinating in an effort to find him and bring him into custody.

“We must never forget the sacrifices of our first responders and their families. My condolences go out to the families of the officers, and I pray for the full recovery of the injured. I also pray for a swift resolution to this manhunt, and I have full confidence in the law enforcement agencies searching for the shooter.”

Original post: Continue reading “Two Police Officers Shot at Georgia Southwestern In Americus”

Board of Regents Names Two New Officers

Regent C. Thomas Hopkins, Jr., MD and Regent Jim Hull were both recently appointed to the governing body of the University System of Georgia. Hopkins has been appointed a one-year term as the Board’s chair and Hull a one-year term as vice chair.

Hopkins has been a regent officer representing the Third Congressional District since 2010. He is board certified in orthopaedic surgery and orthopaedic sports medicine. He practices medicine at a private practice in Griffin, GA.

“The University System of Georgia plays a critical role in preparing students to meet the needs of tomorrow’s workforce, as well as to help develop our next generation of leaders,” says Hopkins. “I am excited about the opportunities ahead next year and working with our Board as we continue to serve our number one priority – our students – and to help support them successfully to college completion.” Continue reading “Board of Regents Names Two New Officers”