Parnell pushes scholarship bill
By Andrew Sheeler
Sun Star Reporter
Governor Sean Parnell wants the legislature to pass his merit-based scholarship bill, and he’s willing to call a special session if lawmakers don’t vote on it in the few remaining days before the April 18 session termination.
“I am perfectly willing to stay as long as it takes,” Parnell said. He went on to say that he remains optimistic that the bill (HB 297) will pass before the end of the session. Alaskan lawmakers are more doubtful of that prospect.
“It’s just too big a bite to take off at one time”, said Rep. Mike Hawker, in an interview with the Anchorage Daily News. Hawker, R-Anchorage, is the co-chair of the House Finance Committee, where HB297 currently languishes. Senate Majority Leader Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak, has said that he wants time for the legislature to ponder the scholarship over the summer when the legislature is in recess.
The bill would create a Governor’s Performance Scholarship (GPS). Students who took four years of math, science and English and three years of social studies would be eligible for the scholarship. “A” students would have 100 percent of their tuition paid. “B” students would receive 75 percent tuition and “C-plus” students would receive 50 percent tuition.
Parnell says that the bill has been analyzed and debated enough already and that it’s time for the lawmakers to make it a law. Sen. Stevens and Rep. Hawker are just trying to put the bill off for another year, Parnell said.