Posted on Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Virginia lawmakers rolled back into Richmond earlier this month for their 46-day “short session,” and there’s no shortage of higher-education issues before legislators.

Ellen Davenport, VCCS Assistant Vice Chancellor for Governmental Relations and Administrative Services, is leading the VCCS team at the Capitol, and keeping an eye on a range of issues, including:

• State Senator Frank Ruff and Delegate Kathy Byron have submitted amendments to allocate more state resources to Virginia’s New Economy Workforce Credential Grants, which are vital in making VCCS FastForward programs so affordable for students. The Ruff/Byron amendments would boost the Governor’s proposed budget of $13.5 million in the coming fiscal year, bringing the total to $19 million in FY 2020. Advocacy for this increased funding is still critical and will be through the final day of the 2019 session, February 23.

• Senator Barbara Favola and Delegate Kathy Tran have proposed funding for both a statewide initiative and a NVCC pilot for debt-free community college for Career and Technical Education programs leading to jobs in high demand fields.

• Additional VCCS amendments include implementing recommendations from the Commission on Youth to direct $2 million in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds in the Department of Social Services’ budget to the NEWCG/FastForward program and $2 million to the VCCS’s Road to Success Job Training program.

• In connection with this year’s wide-ranging discussion of legalized gambling, Sen. J. Chapman Petersen has introduced legislation which would create a Virginia Sports Betting Department with 45% of the revenue derived to be allocated to the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education.

• Several pieces of Amazon-related legislation also have been introduced to increase the pipeline for Virginia college students to be trained in computer sciences.

VCCS college presidents are encouraged to visit legislators representing their colleges with representatives and/or students from their schools to advocate for the VCCS’s priorities.

We’ll post updates when warranted, and will have a wrap-up story when the legislature adjourns.'

Jim Babb

Jim Babb works for Virginia's Community Colleges in the Office of Strategic Communications.

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