Why I Support Jason Carter

The following is a guest post from Representative Stacey Evans (D- Smyrna). Evans is credited with crafting a bipartisan effort to increase access to HOPE Grants for technical colleges.

Yesterday Rep. Ed Lindsey posted his support for Governor Deal. Many chuckled at the lack of newsworthiness of a Republican legislator supporting a Republican governor.  And no doubt there are chuckles as now a Democratic legislator tells you why she supports the Democratic nominee. But I want to share with you why—party and politics aside—Jason has demonstrated the character and leadership I think we’d all like to see in our State’s chief executive.

HOPE drives me. Growing up, my mother—usually single, oftentimes fleeing hardscrabble men—shuffled my brother and me from rental trailer to rental house and back again just this side of the Tennessee border. College tuition was unthinkable or at least unreachable for us. The promise of HOPE allowed me opportunities beyond the paneling that separated my room from my mom’s. So when cuts to HOPE reared as the first major issue on the 2011 General Assembly’s calendar, I shuttered. To think that 18-year-old me may have missed UGA had I graduated high school after Deal’s cuts was humbling—and horrifying. No games between the Hedges, no law review at UGA, no wedding at the Chapel.

Deal altered HOPE so that only those students with a 3.7 GPA and 1200 SAT score would qualify for full tuition (Zell Miller Scholars). That wouldn’t have included me (I had the GPA, but not the SAT score). Jason urged the Governor to reconsider, noting that these criteria would exclude numerous students, most in rural counties. He offered a counter to Deal’s proposal: award Zell Miller Scholarships to the top 3% of students in every Georgia high school. Deal refused. Eventually though, he cratered and permitted the top 2 individuals from each high school to receive full tuition under HOPE. This change would not have happened without Jason.  Few know that. Without him, Deal would have gutted the lifeblood—and salvation—of countless rural kids yearning to be their family’s first college graduate, like myself.  Jason pushed the idea for the good of the State, not his resume.

The pattern repeated in 2011. In that year, Deal inserted a GPA requirement into the HOPE Grant for the first time, which now precluded technical-college students from receiving full coverage. The year Deal’s cuts took effect, 40,000 students—comprising 25% of the technical- college enrollment—fled Georgia’s technical colleges (more would continue to leave in the years to come). The loss of these students hurt Georgia’s efforts to close the skills gap. Jason and I introduced parallel legislation to reverse the cuts to the HOPE Grant. We urged Governor Deal to support our cause. Not only did he refuse, he questioned its relevance. Only after leaders in the Chamber of Commerce and Republicans buoyed the legislation did the Governor pivot toward us. He however conditioned his support on a self-serving notion: Jason Carter would get no credit. Jason acquiesced. Again, Jason elevated the state’s interests over his own.

Governor Deal still refuses to acknowledge the problem his draconian cuts to HOPE engendered. He credits an economic upswing as the culprit behind the enrollment plunge in technical schools. But two mutually exclusive facts belie that argument. First, unemployment has spiked, not dipped—Georgia now ranks dead last in state unemployment rate. Second, the rate of students leaving our technical colleges exceeded the rate of job growth by 350%. If students were dropping out of school to accept jobs, as Deal asserts, the rate of unemployment would have plunged. Further, work that requires technical skills, like welding, remain vacant in overwhelming numbers.

I visited 5 technical colleges in Georgia and talked to people from many others when I was crafting legislation with Senator Carter on HOPE. Everyone uttered the same message: help was needed. Nobody at those schools—not TCSG leaders, not campus leaders, not instructors, not financial-aid officers, not students—urged us to cease our pleas in the General Assembly.  No one told me that not to worry. Instead, and at every turn, I was told the problem was larger and more noxious than anticipated.

The now 45,000 students who fled our technical colleges since 2011 are real. The over 350,000 people who comprise the 7.9% unemployment rate are real. The over 130,000 vacant jobs that could be filled by qualified people are real. But as per Deal’s cuts, Georgia is woefully short on educational resources and job training. It’s a sad day when Georgia has to look to Florida for skilled labor. Yet that’s the reality.

We need a Governor who will stand up for these Georgians. And we deserve a leader who will elevate people over credit; solutions over politics; Georgia over Florida. We need Jason Carter.

48 comments

  1. John Konop says:

    I have been pushing for years for the technical colleges to merge with high schools. If we let them take the classes for vo tech in high school it would increase job ready skilled graduates, decrease drop out rate , save students money and tax payers.

  2. Edward Lindsey says:

    I welcome Stacey’s introduction to the front page of Peach Pundit and hope she will stick around today for a spirited give and take discussion with various PP contributors. (I got 46 comments yesterday on my post and trust she can beat that today.)

    More importantly, while Stacey and I differ on who we support for Governor, her efforts in the General Assembly in general and especially her work on the HOPE Grants should be applauded. Her efforts demonstrate what we can do when public officials work in a bi-partisan fashion.

    • tribeca says:

      A Republican just said something nice about a Democrat, now this is man bites dog. Someone alert WSB! Call Brenda Wood!! Get me the AJC on line 3!!!

      In all seriousness, I appreciate both of you coming here and laying your positions out for people to read and comment on. I wish every elected official could be so engaging.

    • John Konop says:

      Ed,

      This is what I do not get at all. Education and jobs are the 2 big issues….I have proposed this concept for years…It would increase jobs, decrease drop out rate, save students and tax payers a lot of money (enough to save Hope and extras)….why not? The only excuse I have heard is it tough to break down the walls between areas….This issue would of been off the table…

      ……Georgia needs to increase education quality and decrease costs in light of flat tax revenues. Students and parents face skyrocketing post-high school education costs and an extremely competitive global job market that demands real skills and experience.

      Sharing resources across our higher education system (colleges, universities, community colleges, and vocational schools) and our high schools will substantially answer these challenges. The goal is to create clear and cohesive vocational and college prep paths starting as soon as the 9th grade.

      New vocational tracks will allow high school students to attend local vocational schools to receive marketable job training and a high school diploma. The requirements for graduation/certification should be set by the current accepted vocational/community college system. Students that pass a state-approved vocational school program earn a high school diploma, regardless of whether they have or not they have met all of the high school’s other curriculum requirements.

      Transferring payments between high schools and higher education schools would be straight forward, requiring only a modest expansion of Georgia’s existing college-prep joint enrollment program payment sharing framework…..

      more

      http://www.ajc.com/weblogs/get-schooled/2014/jan/03/improve-vocational-track-georgia-high-schools/

  3. Trey A. says:

    Stacey, your story is a powerful one. Thank you for sharing. It further illustrates Jason Carter’s commitment to ethics, good government and doing what is right for the people of Georgia.

    I’ve had quite a few folks ask me if I am voting against Deal or for Carter. The answer is honestly “both.” Four years ago, when I voted for Barnes, it was certainly “against Deal.” We all know Deal has serious ethical “issues.” But in Carter, we have a true positive alternative–this is not a “hold your nose and vote against the corrupt guy” election.

    Nice to see Mr. Lindsey chime in, too.

  4. saltycracker says:

    Guess that 8 of 10 PP readers will agree we need to do a lot more to attract and provide HOPE for vocational futures. But to elect a spend a billion candidate like Carter on that issue is desperate. Better to have the legislature push Deal to fix this.

    UGA was costly for many even with a full HOPE ride.

      • John Konop says:

        In all due respect it is not really about money….We need to change the mission of education…The most successful countries in the world goal is either be prepared for a skilled job and or higher education. We have a goal that all kids must be prepared for higher education. Because of this we spend more money chasing our tail…with worse results…the best countries do way less end of year evaluation testing than us….lower drop out rates ie students on proper aptitude track with correct curriculum based on track, billions in savings from testing/administrative overhead ……Not rocket science…we make it hard…

        • caroline says:

          Either that or we could encourage businesses to do more journeyman type training like they do in Europe where they don’t learn it school but learn it by actually working with somebody. I know while your suggestion is a good one I have an LD son where a journeyman type program would be much better for him. He does not do well with classroom type situations.

      • saltycracker says:

        B
        Exactly the reason to stay away from a Carter edu-cracy, where students would not be the top priority but a means.

  5. eehrhart says:

    I read with a great deal of sadness and shock the recent editorial from Representative Stacey Evans.
    Sadness because I believed Rep Evans when she came to me in 2013 and wanted to work in a bipartisan manner on an issue we each had a passion for; which was the Technical College System of Georgia, and the students who attend these institutions. I thought she was sincere when she complained that her Democratic Senate colleague Jason Carter was only interested in demagoguery on the issue, rather than solving the problem. I had many substantive and bi-partisan conversations with Rep. Evans on this issue and worked with her in my capacity as chair of the Higher Education committee to see this succeed. We each worked with Governor Deal’s staff insure this good idea passed the House and Senate and was signed by the Governor. It was signed in April of 2013. HB372
    I am shocked at Representative Evans blatant untruths about what transpired as well. Let’s just take the most egregious quote from Evans: “The Governor conditioned his support on a self-serving notion: Jason Carter would get no credit, Jason acquiesced.” Even if you will not take my word for it, that she was in our conversations massively frustrated about “Jason’s Political grandstanding”, read the words of her chief of staff:

    GaPundit.com by Todd Rehm | Feb 12, 2013 | Georgia Politics
    by Seth C. Clark
    “There was no backroom deal struck, no votes traded. It was the merit of the proposal that brought together these political adversaries. Governor Deal did not endorse some of the idea, or propose to tweak the idea. He endorsed Evans’s proposal as is.”

    It is always disappointing to find out that someone you thought was sincere in politics, is little more than a political opportunist, who is willing to resort to untruth for any political end. I thought Rep. Evans cared about these students and not about political ends. This is why I helped her every step of the way and why Governor Deal agreed as well. I truly thought she was working in good faith on a mutual issue of concern. Little did I know that she was merely a shill for Jason Carter and his political machine?
    This was a good idea and over the years I have worked with many of my Democrat colleagues on bi-partisan legislation to many successes. However in my over 25 years of service I have never witnessed such a blatant political ploy using students as props to further the ends of Georgia’s democrats. I guess I should not be surprised as they usually subscribe to the ends justify the means philosophy. It seems Rep. Evans only interest is politics, not truly the TCSG system and its students.
    Governor Deal saved the Hope scholarship for students all across Georgia with his wise and fiscally prudent changes to HOPE in 2011. Rep. Evans and Jason Carter trade in hyperbole and scare tactics on this issue. Without the changes, HOPE would not be around for students in anywhere near the level of financial aid it provides today. Now HOPE is available for Georgia Students and still pays almost 87% of all tuitions. Look around and find a state in this nation which provides anywhere close to such a good deal. You will not find it. Jason and Rep. Evans ideas would have resulted in drastically reduced HOPE scholarships for students. As they demonstrate time and again, Jason and Stacey are just the latest example of how Democrats are about politics and not about substance. They certainly do not care about Georgia Students. Jason and Stacey take their economics from their Democrat fellow paragons of fiscal responsibility in Detroit and Chicago; let’s not bring that to Georgia. Just one final note on Stacey’s dis-ingenuousness. She links to a bill that did not pass with just democrats rather than the bill HB372, I and the Governors floor leaders co-sponsored with her in a true bi-partisan effort. Her credibility is just not served but such obvious politics.
    I will continue to work on good ideas like Hope Grant changes with Governor Deal who truly cares, and will continue to work with democrat colleagues who are interested in substantive issues and the students of Georgia. I will however not be working with Representative Evans ever again. Bi-Partisanship is difficult enough in today’s politically toxic environment, much less when you cannot trust those you work with to be sincere about the issue. Life is too short to work with those who put politics and ambition ahead of the children of our state.

    Representative Earl Ehrhart
    Chairman House committee on Higher Education

    • Ellynn says:

      So you’re saying Ed Lindsey’s statement on Rep Evans efforts is wrong? (Not trying to start a war here – just trying to understand your point.)

      • Edward Lindsey says:

        Ellynn: I was glad to congratulate Stacey Evans on her original bi partisan work with the Governor and Rep. Ehrhart on the issue of HOPE Grants. She worked with them and they worked with her. The final bill was strongly supported by the Governor and Republican leadership in the House. I was proud to vote for it. That is how government is supposed to work. I thought it spoke well of all concerned.

        As to the internal discussions between Stacey, Earl, and the Governor’s office, I was not privy and will leave that to Earl, Stacey, and others. However, I can tell you a little bit about Earl. I have worked closely with him many times and have gone toe to toe against him once or twice. He is as tough as nails, but I could always trust what he said and if he thought you had a good idea he would work with you regardless of what party you were in.

    • Cowabunga says:

      Blah, blah, blah. … Where were you when the governor was soaking the taxpayers with his junkyard scheme? And where were you when the old coot fired the tax commissioner, who actually saved tax payers money? And where were you when the shenanigans were going on with the Ethics and Dark Windows department? You folks, all of your republican leaders have violated the public trust and are destroying the GAGOP.

  6. I get that we’re in a political season, politics is war by other means and Rep. Evans is doing what she can to help her Party and it’s nominee. I wasn’t involved in crafting HB372, thus I have no knowledge of the negotiations that took place. I can say however, I voted for the bill and was glad to see House Leadership support it and allow Rep. Evans to get the credit for her hard work.

    As Chairman Ehrhart can tell you, allowing a member of the minority party to get credit for passing a major piece legislation didn’t happen under Democratic Speakers. I am disappointed our display of bi-partisanship is now being used against us. Again, I get it, it’s a political year and everything is fair game.

    Carter and his allies have complained loudly that the Hope Scholarship no longer covers 100% of tuition for everyone. They also complain about rising tuition costs, apparently unaware that offering free tuition to all qualified Georgians might actually contribute to rising tuition costs at state schools.

    One of the best things about Governor Deal’s Hope reforms was it separated the Hope scholarship from tuition. We’ve seen the rate of tuition increases at Georgia’s public colleges has slowed since the reforms took place. I wonder why?

    I went to Gainesville College then transferred to Georgia Tech. I lived at home and commuted to save money. I worked nights, weekends, and during the summer to pay my own way though school. I wasn’t easy but I came out of college debt free. The Hope Scholarship is a wonderful program that has helped many Georgians obtain a college education. It is still a wonderful program, even with higher tuition costs and students being asked to help pay for some of their college education.

    To pretend that Governor Deal and the Republicans tried to destroy Hope and that somehow a Governor Carter can waive a magic wand and give everyone a free college education without raising taxes (which is what his position seems to be), is simply nonsense.

    • John Konop says:

      I do think if you guys implemented the plan I am proposing it would save Hope and give all students a chance of gaining job skills before high school graduation. The big hole is for vo-tech students…If we just caught 25% of them while in high school it would be a material savings…I would guess the number would be over 50% after it caught on….The above plan would save material amount of money on unneeded end of year testing, administrative overhead, building cost…….just my 10 cents…

      • saltycracker says:

        John
        We have until Tuesday to pick a governor not a method/solution….you running with Deal/Perdue or Carter/Nunn ?
        I’ll take my chances (and they are) with the former.

        • John Konop says:

          I do think Deal has done a good job with prison reform, vo-tech education ( A big Push by LG.Cagle ) and promoting Georgia. Nobody is a 100%…..but overall he has done a good job.

          Perdue and Nunn…..one strange election…..other than bashing each other what do any of us know?

          • saltycracker says:

            Based on your posts, you support Deal and Nunn ?
            I agree with 3 jack on the problems and lack of a platform (aka everybody happy $$) that reflects tax reform and a whole host of issues to get behind, but know enough to pick Perdue over Nunn for a slim chance vs. no chance.

  7. James Fannin says:

    Reading the two versions of events – Evan’s and Ehrhart’s, I believe Rep Earl Ehrhart particularly given the evidence he introduced, the obvious emotion and sadness with which he writes, and the fact that Zell Miller credits Governor Deal with saving Hope. Rep Stacy Evans could learn a lot from Zell Miller about being honest and trustworthy. In writing this mendacious endorsement she has not served her constituents well. I doubt any Republican will be foolish enough to work with her in the next legislative session. Earl Ehrhart certainly won’t. Rep Evan’s constituents may well be even bigger losers than Jason Carter on election night because their representative put Party and politics ahead of the interests of those she represents. Thanks to Peach Pundit for providing her the shovel.

    • Andrew C. Pope says:

      “obvious emotion and sadness” = hyperbole

      Rep. Ehrhart is pouting like a six year old that didn’t get the box of cookies even though Mom said she would buy cookies at Publix but when she came back from the store there were no cookies because Mom is a liar and I’m going to go to my room and not come out until there are cookies.

      • Cowabunga says:

        Now how many ethics shenanigans involving prominent republicans over the last few years? Hope they lose.

  8. StaceyEvans says:

    Earl – You know me better than that. My efforts to help expand access to HOPE were (and continue to be) nothing but sincere and based on my belief (that I know you share) that education is the path to the middle class and that higher educational opportunities to more students leads to a better economy for Georgia. Education was my ticket to success and it can be for many others if we provide access.

    Many times you and I disagree on the best way to achieve increased access to higher education, but expanding the HOPE Grant was a place where we agreed (and I think continue to agree). And I will always be grateful to you for working with me. I talk positively about you all the time and use our (unfortunately) unusual partnership on these efforts as a great example of bi-partisanship.

    You know as well as I do that Jason worked with me on HOPE. We were partners on HOPE work from day one of our time at the Gold Dome. I said it then and I say it now. I was told he needed to step aside for the bill to move forward and he did. I certainly expressed my displeasure that politics was getting in the way of good legislation. You shared those feelings and they extended to both sides of the aisle.

    I have not and do not take back my kind words for Governor Deal when he reluctantly came on board and supported some of our efforts to expand the HOPE Grant. But you and I shouldn’t have had to beg Gov Deal to do the right thing and it shouldn’t have mattered who’s name was on the bill. One other thing I will never forget from the experience of pushing legislation with you was when I said to you that if it would help, your name should be first and I would take a back seat. You said no. That you remember that being done to you when republicans were in the majority and you didn’t want to be a part of it. I appreciated it then and still do. And to anyone who will listen (and now all of punditry world) I say that if I’m ever in a position to do so, I will not appropriate republican legislation and refuse to share credit where it is due. I think being in the minority makes you a better member of the majority once you get there. I thought that about you then. And I still do.

    Even after your comments today, and even if you don’t want to work with me, I want to work with you. Finding common ground is the only way good policy can move forward. You and I disagree on who should be governor, but not on the value of HOPE Grant expansion. It is disappointing that you couldn’t separate the two as Rep. Lindsey did in his comments. I know you want Governor Deal to win and so I don’t take this personally. I believe we will find our way back to each other to do good for the State as we have before.

    • Scott65 says:

      Lets add this as another reason I would never vote for Deal…spiteful. That he wouldn’t sign a bill that both sides thought was a good just because it might have a competitors name on it????? That is not good government…set aside that he is a crook void of any ethics, that he refused to expand medicaid and threw out false numbers in support of decision he knew was bad for Georgians causing rural hospitals to close, and 600,000 Georgians to go without insurance, saying no to 37 BILLION in federal money, the jobs that would come with it, and basically being nothing but an opportunist (only supporting things that make him look good) when it comes to government.
      I might also add that the winter forecast is quite snowy for Atlanta…and we all know how that went down the first time last year.

      • caroline says:

        This is what the GOP has become–a party only for the far right and Deal is just another one doing what so many of them are doing. Why are you surprised? 6 months into his term I knew he only cared about the far right.

  9. Three Jack says:

    Beyond HOPE which means nothing to this voter, what other reasons are there to vote for Jason Carter?

    Will he lead on real tax reform (not the BS put forth by GOPers that was nothing more than cover for additional tax breaks being provided to certain lobbyists and their clients).

    Will Carter lead on at least passing a medicinal marijuana law if not decriminalizing it all together?

    What is his proposal to bring the many factions together in order to formulate a realistic gridlock reduction plan?

    Will he put forth serious ideas on reducing/eliminating political corruption including real reform of ethics laws (again not like the BS GOPers passed)?

    Deal who I voted against in 2010 has failed at all of the above while chasing personal enrichment during his term. Is Carter the real deal determined to reform state government or just another ambitious politician willing to say and do anything if it helps advance him personally?

    • Andrew C. Pope says:

      I think it’s impossible to know for sure, especially given Carter’s lack of track record when compared to Governor Deal. As you pointed out, we already know Deal has a shaky relationship with ethics and has failed to take leadership on nearly every major issue. I’m casting my vote for Carter because I hope he’ll be different. I mean, he couldn’t be worse than Deal when it comes to ethics & leadership, right?

      The thing that gives me this hope is Sen. Carter’s grandfather. For all his shortcomings as a President, I don’t think there’s anyone out there who could say that Jimmy Carter ever lacked for ethics or moral character. I’d like to think Jason has been raised right and has taken his grandfather’s positive traits and can bring forthrightness, honesty, and integrity back to West Paces Ferry.

      • James Fannin says:

        I don’t know how long Andrew Pope has been around here but those who experienced the race baiting Carter campaign for Governor of Georgia in 1970 have a great deal to say about Jimmy Carter’s lack of ethics and moral character. Before Carter reinvented himself during the ’76 Presidential race he was more George Wallace than George Washington. Read this piece by Dick Yarborough. http://onlineathens.com/stories/120206/opinion_20061202039.shtml

        • Andrew C. Pope says:

          Maybe Jimmy Carter is a no-good, racist, evil son of a gun and he’s been pulling the wool over our eyes for 40+ years. But before we denigrate the character of a guy that, by all appearances, seems to be a fine upstanding Christian, let’s consider the sources a little bit here. Carl Sanders, the guy who lost to Carter and some hearsay evidence not backed up by any actual proof by Dick Yarbrough (who is a fine humorist but has been grinding an axe with Carter for years).

    • saltycracker says:

      Tax Reform ? You crazy ? Messing with our system of special interests, lobbyists and influence peddling. Putting public service over “Me First”, as identified by the greatest philosopher in Georgia , Pogo Possum……not going to happen.

  10. HueyMahl says:

    I understand the philosophical differences between Republicans and Democrats. Most are sincerely held. And most Democrats are not ideologically pure, neither are most Republicans.

    What I don’t get is why people would support a candidate as ethically challenged as Deal. And don’t sell me that “nothing has been proven” nonsense. He was run out of the (Republican Controlled) US Congress. He continued his shady dealings here in Georgia and cost taxpayers 3.1 million (that we know of).

    Seems like a lot of Deal’s backers have looser morals than they profess.

  11. PoliticalJoe says:

    Ms. Evans, how can anyone make a case for Mr. Carter in regards to HOPE when Mr. Deal is the one that has been endorsed by the creator of the HOPE program, Zell Miller?

  12. Dave Bearse says:

    It seems to me Ehrhart’s been trying to re-establish a reputation and position after negative press on his wheeling and dealing, the bank on whose board he served on failing in 2009, some of his legislation being rebuffed by Gov Perdue, and losing the Rules Chairmanship in 2010.

    Ehrhart is not in the position where you’d expect the longest serving GOP member of the House (26 yrs) in an extremely safe seat to be, and Carter in the Governor’s mansion won’t help him. As I’ve been saying for some time, you can smell the fear.

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