Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal speaks at a ceremony celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Georgia Lottery, which funded the HOPE Scholarship and pre-kindergarten program. ERIC STIRGUS / ESTIRGUS@AJC.COM

Deal thankful his skepticism about Georgia Lottery scholarship plan ‘was proven wrong’

It’s not often that an elected official concedes he was wrong, but Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal did so Wednesday, getting emotional as he spoke about the benefits of the HOPE Scholarship at a ceremony at the state Capitol.

Deal, was a state senator in the early 1990s during the discussion of a plan to create a lottery that would help fund scholarships for students to attend college in Georgia. Deal said he was skeptical at the time.

“I’m glad my skepticism was proven to be wrong,” he said at a ceremony to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Georgia Lottery and the HOPE Scholarship.

The governor, in his last year in office, was near tears as he talked about the impact of the scholarship on its 1.8 million recipients. Two recipients spoke at Wednesday’s ceremony.

“It has given hope to a lot of people, to a lot of families,” Deal said. 

In 2011, Deal’s first year in office, he worked with state lawmakers in 2011 to revamp the college scholarship and pre-k programs in an effort they said was necessary to keep them financially solvent after the Great Recession. Deal said Wednesday the changes were necessary and thanked the late Gov. Zell Miller for supporting those changes.

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