Posted on Friday, January 19, 2018

General Assembly Week 2 Update: Jan. 19, 2018

Submitted by Ellen Davenport, assistant vice chancellor for governmental relations, Virginia’s community colleges

Bills capping tuition and fees to be carried over and studied

In the Higher Education subcommittee of the Senate Education and Health Committee yesterday afternoon, five bills to cap tuition and fees at Virginia’s public institutions of higher education were carried over until 2019. SB 373, 377, 577 and 836 (all patroned by Senator Bill DeSteph) and SB 749 (Sturtevant) will be rolled into one bill and studied by the Senate Education and Health Committee in the intervening time. 

The same subcommittee also voted to pass by indefinitely SB 435 (DeSteph) which would stipulate that the primary responsibility of Boards of public institutions of higher education would be to the Commonwealth of Virginia. 

Bill Allowing TANF funds for community college scholarships advances

SB 27 (Stanley) passed unanimously in the Senate Education and Health Committee yesterday and has been re–referred to the Senate Finance Committee. The companion bill is HB 285 (Murphy), which is on the docket for the House Education Committee next week. 

Workforce Credential Grant/FastForward and Budget Initiatives

Numerous budget amendments have been filed to increase funding for the New Economy Credential Grant/FastForward program in HB 29/SB 29 (the “caboose” budget bill) for $2 million in FY 18,  and in HB 30/SB 30 (the biennial budget bill) for $5.5 million in each year of FY 19 and FY 20. The “caboose” budget amendment filed by the program’s lead Senate patron, Senator Frank Ruff, is for $3 million in FY 18.

The budget introduced by former Governor McAuliffe already includes an additional $2 million in FY 19 and in FY 20. 

If approved, the budget amendments would bring the total WCG funding to $9.5-$10.5 million in FY 18, $15 million in FY 19, and $15 million in FY 20. 

College presidents and other stakeholders are working with business leaders to engage with the members of the Senate Finance Committee and the House Appropriations Committee to include funding in their respective house’s budget recommendations. Each subcommittee of the Senate Finance Subcommittee and the House Appropriations Committee will make recommendations that will become incorporated into their committee’s budget recommendations, to be revealed on February 18. The floor vote in each house will take place on February 22, each budget will cross to the opposite house and be rejected, budget conferees will be appointed, and the budget conference committee should complete its work by March 6, with a final vote on the budget likely to take place on March 10. 

Bill List

The deadline for bill introduction is today. As of this morning, 2,686 bills have been filed. Please visit the VCCS Bills List – 1-18-18 for more information. 

Laura Osberger

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