Governor’s race: Carter has to clarify stand on HOPE. Deal has to make amends with teachers. Did either do so last night?

In both this debate last week and one last night, Nathan Deal and Jason Carter assailed each other on their education records.

In both this debate last week and one last night, Nathan Deal and Jason Carter assailed each other on their education records.

In both this debate last week and one last night, Nathan Deal and Jason Carter assailed each other on their education records. Libertarian Andrew Hunt has largely dodged the bickering.

I watched the WSB-TV gubernatorial debate last night in which Democrat Jason Carter and Republican Nathan Deal had several fractious exchanges over the HOPE Scholarship and education spending.

In what was their final debate before the Nov. 4 election, the candidates spent too much time challenging the other’s facts and too little elaborating on their own platforms. Libertarian Andrew Hunt stayed above the fray, refusing to get drawn into the squabble.

Based on the emails and conversations I’m having with voters, Carter needs to be clearer on HOPE, and Deal needs to tone down the rhetoric on his education spending at a time when many teachers are still suffering furloughs.

I  am sharing these reader comments as they reflect common concerns among the voters focused on education issues. (There are many voters for whom education is not a priority.)

If I were the candidates, I would be speaking to these issues in the final stretch:

First, here is a parent expressing reservations about Carter’s desire to consider a need-based component in the HOPE program:

I truly want to believe that HOPE will remain safe for the “middle class” if Carter becomes our governor, as he is my preferred candidate, but I will remain most diligent on the issue.  I have asked his campaign on several occasions to define Georgia middle-class by a specific income level.

When Carter speaks about becoming a champion for the “middle class,” I need to know if he’s referring to my family. Is this too much to ask?  To date, I have not received an answer and this remains the primary reason I refuse to contribute to his campaign when there is a knock at my door.

On a federal level, my family represents the middle-class in America.  As a resident of Atlanta, I do not believe it is fair to average my income with rural Georgia.

My daughter came home from college this weekend and experienced the thrill of voting for the very first time yesterday. Her final decision to cast a vote for Jason Carter did not come easy. To say the least, the four eligible voters in our family (two current college recipients of HOPE and two that work hard to pay the hefty difference) had an in-depth political discussion Saturday night.

Should you cast a vote for the candidate that has the potential to damage you financially in a very significant way with a potential HOPE income cap or should you look at the entire platform and ultimately choose the candidate that you believe represents the majority of your beliefs and values?

Sadly, three of us remain conflicted and undecided.

And here is a reader questioning Deal on his statements about supporting teachers and improving their healthcare:

I want to bring an issue to your attention in regards to a political flyer I received that supports Gov. Nathan Deal. Gov. Deal states he has invested $114 million into teacher healthcare benefits. This pamphlet proceeds to state how much he has supported teachers over the past few years through other means as well.

I am extremely angry that Deal has decided to lie to the public and make them believe that he supports teachers. If you recall, there has been a major backlash on healthcare benefits through the formation of TRAGIC (Teachers Rally to Advocate Georgia Insurance Choices.)

The healthcare funds that are meant to be spent on State Healthcare benefits were actually taken for other purposes. To be blunt, our healthcare benefits suck. And they have gotten worse every year. The governor has the nerve to say that he has improved healthcare benefits. Really?

I have called and written the Governor’s Office for an explanation and have yet to hear anything. On behalf of many teachers out there, we would like an explanation.

 

 

 

Reader Comments 0

55 comments
living-in-outdated-ed
living-in-outdated-ed

I honestly don't know who I'm voting for this cycle, and that is sad. When Jason Carter looked at me 9 months ago and said "I think I'm a DFER," and then wouldn't fill out the questionnaire provided by the Georgia Charter Schools Association, he lost my vote (I think).   Why can't we have reform-minded candidates who actually sound intelligent about the issues.


Oops - I guess I sound quite Quixotian.   It'll never happen in our lifetime.

hrlcpa
hrlcpa

@living-in-outdated-ed - Hunt for governor is your vote then...he is for the variety of school choices and against common core....he even pointed out in the debates Deal only increased Charter school funding in 2014 by $250k.... it did not come up in last debate but Hunt was ready to point out that charter school funding actaully decreased by net $2m because Federal dollars were shifted from Charter programs to others,,,, vote Hunt.

JoeDemura
JoeDemura

People are going to come out for the unemployment rate, 8.1% and you have to look at the early voting numbers already at 500,000

Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

As with most elections, the voter has little choice but to hold their nose and cast a ballot for the least offensive.

Deal came to office at the height of the great recession and has performed as well as can be expected given the situation.  Carter has done nothing but ride his granddaddy's name.

Ironically, Carter's plan to make HOPE a means based program would probably eliminate two teacher households.

hrlcpa
hrlcpa

@Lee_CPA2 - I agree but disagree.... hold your head high and vote Hunt and make it clear to the other parties you are fed up with their approach... that way you do not have to hold your nose :)


td1234
td1234

I have read the comments and it seems that all the teachers on here have forgotten totally about the recession that we have been through since 2008. 


The states 2008 budget was $22 billion dollars to $16 billion in 2010. Education and Medicaid make up 70% of the states budget and Medicaid has been increasing each and every year. This years budget was the first year since the recession started that our revenues were back close to the $22 billion and Deal placed nearly $500 million back into the education budget. 


What was Deal suppose to do the other years, raise taxes on the middle class in a time of recession? We are not the Federal government so we can not borrow money. When revenues are not coming in then you either cut spending or raise taxes. 

FredinDeKalb
FredinDeKalb

@td1234 


I expect one of either two answers from many that post here


1.  It's President Obama's fault.

2.  It's the fault of the leadership in APS, Clayton and DeKalb.

FredinDeKalb
FredinDeKalb

@td1234 


I am speechless as I did not expect an answer other that the two possibilities I offered.Maybe someone else will blame them.


Astropig
Astropig

@td1234


"What was Deal suppose to do the other years, raise taxes on the middle class in a time of recession? We are not the Federal government so we can not borrow money. When revenues are not coming in then you either cut spending or raise taxes. "


Good points,but lost on this crowd.They still believe in Santa Claus.

hrlcpa
hrlcpa

@td1234 The Ga constitution requires a balanced budget... but if you look at 2014 and 2015 budgeted revenue levels they are at pre-crash levels.  However, Deal's % of state funds spent on GA education is less than even Purdues per their very own budgets shown online... Deal accepted federal funds (oops money borrowed from China) for Common Core and just now wants to appoint a commission to study GA education ???? NO thanks....Hunt for Governor is the choice

EdUktr
EdUktr

You can be sure the teachers' unions aren't "conflicted" when it comes to which political party to shovel their members' dues money to this election. In fact, they never are conflicted. Just Google "NEA" and "contributions" to see what I mean.

And those teachers' unions will spend up to $80 million to help Democrats by the time this is over: http://time.com/3506934/teachers-unions-midterms/

crankee-yankee
crankee-yankee

@EdUktr ",,,those teachers' unions will spend up to $80 million to help Democrats by the time this is over,,,"


Too bad it isn't $100 million.

dg417s
dg417s

@EdUktr How much are the Koch brothers spending to get Republicans elected?  $80 million is a drop in the bucket.

booful98
booful98

Carter *should* clarify exactly where he sees the cap going. But even with that, how can any parent with a child in the public school system, any teacher in the public school system vote in good conscience for Deal? He of the "austerity cuts"? He of the "furlough days"?

Last year between the furloughs and the lost days due to the storms, my children went to school 162 days. And I am counting the 5 early release day for parent teacher conferences when they were home 2 hours earlier every day for a week.

td1234
td1234

@booful98 It is called a budget. Georgia must balance a budget each and every year. Georgia went from $22 billion in revenue to $16 billion in two years and has just now come back close to the revenue numbers. 


What was Purdue and then Deal suppose to do, raise taxes in the middle of a recession?

booful98
booful98

@td1234 @booful98  Of course you are right. Screwing over children and teachers was absolutely the way to go. I am quite certain there were NO areas AT ALL where he could have cut expenses. None whatsoever. Or ANY place where business tax loopholes could have been ended.

Astropig
Astropig

@booful98 @td1234 

Got news for you- Carter wouldn't end those tax breaks either. You simply don't understand the kind of pressure that large employers can exert on government to get their way. Even if Nathan Deal had closed all of these loopholes/tax giveaways,it wouldn't run the school system for more than a couple of days.There are 50 states,thousands of counties and tens of thousands of cities that want the kind of manufacturing jobs that these breaks attract.If Georgia unilaterally stops competing for them, it just means that another state,county or city will step in and take the prize. Companies are smart enough to know this and they play one against the other.I don't like it a bit better than you do, but that's the world we live in.Governor Deal has had to make some hard choices since he was elected and it's easy to second guess,but Carter's irresponsible assertion that there is "massive" waste to be tapped like an ATM to increase school funding is the kind of nonsense that makes people skeptical of politicians.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

Deal CANNOT justify his mistreatment of teachers and education in Georgia.  It is simply not possible.


While I agree with Carter about not funding the education of the highest earning families, the GOP plays on middle class fears, telling them THEY will be considered wealthy.  Jason should clarify; if he means families earning over $250,000 (or whatever)l he should say so.  OR he could reinstate the need-based, federal match money program we had for the poor before HOPE.  It was called SSIG, and it targeted the poor.

class80olddog
class80olddog

No matter how you slice it - you are voting for a POLITICIAN.  Politicians are like lawyers and used-car salesmen - they are professional LIARS.  More money to EDUCATION does not equate to more money in the classroom - most of it stops at the administrative level (where it does not even work any improvement at THAT level).  Just look at APS and you will see that more money does not improve educational outcomes.  The best results come from addressing issues that require only some backbone, not more money. (Discipline, Attendance, and Social Promotion)

BCW1
BCW1

Yes, teachers are a powerful group but the problem is that around 50% of them are NOT registered votes. As an educator myself, that is mind boggling to me!!!

ErnestB
ErnestB

@BCW1


You really believe that around 50% of teachers are not registered voters?  Is there any information you can point to that would help us understand this claim?

td1234
td1234

@Wascatlady @BCW1 The information came out in a conference in Athens right before the primary. TRAGIC covered the numbers. 

SouthGeorgiareader
SouthGeorgiareader

Both responses are on target.  Carter does need to clarify what he means about qualifying for HOPE, and Deal certainly needs to explain more about his cuts to public education.  As the incumbent, Deal doesn't have much defense for the way he's treated teachers and public schools---he decimated schools with his budget cuts,and did it openly with the backing of his GOP cohorts who sent teachers the message that they didn't matter.

Astropig
Astropig

@SouthGeorgiareader 

 "he decimated schools with his budget cuts,and did it openly with the backing of his GOP cohorts who sent teachers the message that they didn't matter."

He could have turned every dollar of revenue over to them and they would still endorse Carter. Educrats think that they can spend 4 years slinging mud at Republicans and there won't be any repercussions after the election. Politics is a contact sport, so if your guy loses,you're just kinda stuck,huh?

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

@Astropig @SouthGeorgiareader And he continues to send the message with his new "improved " health insurance "plan!"


And, Pig, my colleagues in my system seem to be about 90% R.  But he has managed to (*i**) them off as well!

Astropig
Astropig

@Wascatlady @Astropig @SouthGeorgiareader 

" And, Pig, my colleagues in my system seem to be about 90% R"

I don't believe that for a second. Nobody else here does, either.

Astropig
Astropig

@Quidocetdiscit @Astropig 

I don't believe you either. If that were true,you people would be running down John Barge or David Pennington as Satan's spawn.Deal would have been voted out by this massive wave of teachers votes.

crankee-yankee
crankee-yankee

@Astropig


Not all R's are far right-wing idiots. Most of the R's in my system (and they do outnumber D's by a significant number, just look at the bumper-stickers in the parking lots) lean conservative. They look at the whole candidate and vote for the one who best matches their views, When in doubt, they vote R. There are a few who are crazies, they have publicly stated they vote straight ticket R no matter what, but they are in the minority. I know quite a few who are fed up with Deal and are voting for Carter.

Astropig
Astropig

@crankee-yankee @Astropig


Interesting thing. The Tea Party candidates (for the most part) have been quiescent in this election cycle.They generally didn't survive the primaries.But we've been told for a long time now that if the Republicans would just stop nominating the TP crazies,the "moderate" Dems would give them a look and the rhetoric would be toned down,blah,blah,blah.


But that hasn't happened.The race here in Georgia is some evidence of that. None of the Republican candidates are TP or "far right" adherents and the vitriol has been as bad or worse than I have ever seen it. This is part of a larger point that I have been trying to make-That teachers will always endorse the Democrat candidate (Roy Barnes-the exception) and republican office holders can safely ignore them.

Quidocetdiscit
Quidocetdiscit

@Astropig


You are free to "believe" whatever you want.  Reality does not hinge upon what you "believe".

dg417s
dg417s

One thing I pride myself on - usually - is the fact that if you ever saw my ballot, you would not be able to tell which party I support.  I support candidates based on issues, not based on party.  Unfortunately, one party has given a slate of candidates that, for the most part, are not good for my students or for me.  That being said, there are a few GOP candidates marked on my ballot - a much smaller proportion than usual, unfortunately.  Deal, regardless of the rhetoric, still had an austerity cut of over $700,000,000.  He can say he increased funding all he wants, but when QBE is still underfunded, students all over this state are still going to have to deal with calendars of less than 180 days, teachers are going to have to deal with larger class sizes, and parents deal with reports saying that Georgia is still at the bottom.  


Honestly, reelecting Deal will result in the same thing that happened by reelecting Perdue - a term-limited governor who doesn't need anyone or anything.  Just ride out a 4-year lame duck term and who can do anything about it?  Cut education?  No problem.  At least we can "Go Fish."  If Deal knew he wasn't term limited, he would likely be a better candidate than he is.  What fear does he have?  What benefits will Hall County and Gainesville suddenly find themselves having when their hometown Lame Duck governor is sending lots of money up that way?

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

@dg417s And don't forget setting up his own business with state and federal money at the port!

BSNBC
BSNBC

Carter will say anything to get elected....just like Grandpa!

notagain
notagain

I would think not collecting due taxes could be considered a massive waste.

Why is Deal not pursuing this 70 mil...could it be connected to his selling his company to the company that owes the state?

Carter may not be as experienced as Deal.The experience Deal has,Carter does not need.

Astropig
Astropig

Carter is promising a free lunch. Deal is saying that there is no free lunch.That's not comfortable for some to hear,but it is realistic.Kyle Wingfield nailed it in today's piece when he calls BS on Carter's "plan" for education.There is simply no way to pour more money into education without raising taxes on people that are already hard pressed to make a go of it. Carter says that there is "massive waste" in state government,but over half the state's budget is already education,so I'm appalled that the media has not pressed him on this point.

dontstereotypemeyo
dontstereotypemeyo

@Astropig 

Not a Carter fan, but the rhetoric by HOPE reform opponents is shameful. There would still be same standards with HOPE as before, just with an income cutoff. The irony is that in other contexts, i.e. cutoffs for Social Security benefits, conservatives WANT means testing.

What we need to get away from is where HOPE is mostly used by people who could easily afford to pay college for their kids. There was an article in the AJC a few years back where folks were abandoning college savings funds for their kids in favor of a yacht or a second BMW. That isn't in the state interest. 

There is a legitimate issue - a lot of families fall into that "zone" where they make too much to qualify for "indigent" but too little to pay out of pocket. This should not be confused with the HOPE issue, but plenty do. Another thing: the rhetoric of "punishing success" does not apply here. This is not the tax cuts for the rich argument, but whether the state benefits in any way from subsidizing the college educations of people who do not require a subsidy.

Astropig
Astropig

@dontstereotypemeyo @Astropig 

Making HOPE a means tested program will kill broad public support for it.( It will do the same to SS,too). Turning the program into a welfare scheme will drive yet another wedge between the poor and the middle class (which foots the bill for most tax financed schemes),which will make the inevitable pushback even worse.I know that HOPE is not tax financed,but it is a program that keeps a LOT of bright Georgians in Georgia for college and beyond.Carter is simply using HOPE money as a bribe to get votes. Only the willfully blind can't see that.

Mr_B
Mr_B

@Astropig "will drive yet another wedge between the poor and the middle class (which foots the bill for most tax financed schemes),which will make the inevitable pushback even worse."


Since HOPE is funded by the lottery, which is overwhelming patronized by lower income folks, why should there be an "inevitable pushback?" Unless, of course the folks with no skin in the game get mad about losing their "freebies."

class80olddog
class80olddog

@Mr_B @Astropig  Mr. B>  - you DO realize that the purchase of lottery tickets is entirely VOLUNTARY, right?  It is not a tax and people are welcome to quit buying them at any time.

Astropig
Astropig

@Mr_B @Astropig 

Making HOPE means tested will only make the student debt problem even worse. Middle class families will simply borrow more money to send their kids to college to fill the hole left by gutting HOPE.

You sound like you want to tie revenue to its source and only spend it on the people that generate it. Better be careful there. The middle class might just take you up on it.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

@Mr_B @Astropig They scream when they don't think they are getting "theirs" even when it is not theirs.

Astropig
Astropig

@class80olddog @Astropig @Wascatlady @Mr_B 

Agreed. Again, that's a road that the "poor" and the "rich" both might better avoid.

This simply illustrates my point-When these things are made over as welfare type programs,it creates divisions that can be exploited by cynical politicians. 

booful98
booful98

@dontstereotypemeyo @Astropig HOPE wasn't meant to give everyone a free college education. It was meant to retain bright students in the state. The assumption was they were getting better deals elsewhere and leaving.

The numbers as I know them do back up this some: the average SAT scores of incoming freshmen at UGA in the 90s versus now are, I believe, several hundred points higher (and not because of the extra section either..I mean apples to apples)

Astropig
Astropig

@Wascatlady @Mr_B @Astropig 

 

 They scream when they don't think they are getting "theirs" even when it is not theirs.

Two questions:

1) Who,exactly is "they"?

2) Who does "theirs" belong to?

class80olddog
class80olddog

@Astropig @Wascatlady @Mr_B  I presume she is talking about the poor students (in both senses of the word) who believe they should get more because they are poor, and the ones who do not have the grades to get the full HOPE.  They say that since THEY paid the lottery money in, it is "theirs".