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Lottery brought Georgia more cash for education


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POSTED: Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Ask a Hawaii nonpolitical person about politics or an election and they say they hope their favorite candidate wins, or they hope so-and-so loses or they hope that someone hears their ideas.

Basically for those who bother to vote, and those folks are in the minority, what they want is hope. Some voters want power, others want legitimacy or recognition, but they all are looking for a candidate to give them hope.

Did you think it was an accident that Bill Clinton's campaign biography was titled: “;A Man from Hope”;?

Next year the Hawaii candidate for governor who can best project a passionate optimism for Hawaii's future will win.

Hope trumps experience. We don't want assurances from the past as much as we want a guideway to a better future.

Also by the looks of things at the state budget office, we also will be wanting a lot more money.

In 1990 in Georgia, Zell Miller, who had been lieutenant governor for 16 years, ran for governor. His campaign would be based on a tough anti-crime stance, furthering integration and committing Georgia to educational excellence.

To pay for his education promises, Miller announced he would tirelessly work for a state lottery. Every major newspaper in Georgia condemned Miller's idea. Georgia is conservative enough to be the buckle in the Bible Belt, but Miller thought that a lottery would be supported by the people.

The issue gave Miller a chance to not just talk about the lottery; he could expand the campaign to talk about hopes for education, hopes for Georgia's children and for the economy. Miller argued that lottery proceeds would be kept separate from the general fund, the money could not supplant existing education money; instead the lottery money would go for statewide pre-kindergarten and college scholarships.

Miller won the election by 100,000 votes.

The college scholarship program today is still funded by the state lottery. It pays ALL tuition at any public university in Georgia for any public school student graduating high school with a B average. The pre-kindergarten program is now considered a model for the nation.

Miller left after two terms with an 85 percent approval rating. Hawaii governors are lucky to leave office with all limbs attached, let alone a stratospheric approval rating.

A biography on Miller is entitled “;The Man Who Gave Georgia HOPE.”; The college assistance plan the Georgia lottery pays for are called HOPE Scholarships.

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Richard Borreca writes on politics every Wednesday. Reach him at rborreca@ starbulletin.com.