Posted on Monday, February 20, 2017

With the scheduled “sine die” adjournment date of February 25 approaching next weekend, the 2017 General Assembly is heading down the home stretch. There has been no talk yet of adjourning early, but luckily there has also been no interest of a deadlock on the budget, adjourning later, or having to call a special session in the spring. 

 Budget Deliberations

HB 1500 and SB 900 officially went into conference on Wednesday, February 15. As expected, House budget conferees are Delegates Jones, Cox, Landes, O’Bannon, Greason, and Torian; Senate conferees are Senators Norment, Hanger, Saslaw, Howell, Newman, Ruff, and Wagner. 

The main differences between the two sides that are of interest to the VCCS are:

(1) Salary increases for state employees and public college/university faculty (the House budget provides a 3% increase; the Senate budget provides a 2% increase for faculty and 3% for classified staff);

(2) Reductions in education and general (E&G) funding (the Senate maintains the Governor’s recommended reduction of $21.97 million; the House reduces the reductions by approximately $7 million); and

(3) Maintenance of the $1 million increase in workforce credentials funding in FY 17 originally recommended by the Governor and included in the Senate but not the House budget. 

Dual Enrollment; Transfer Credits

Dual Enrollment and Home School Students

HB 2007 (Del. Bell) failed to advance in the Senate Finance Committee on an 8-8 vote on Tuesday. The bill would have allowed all home school students to be enrolled at public high schools and pay the same amount as public school students for dual enrollment classes. The bill had an estimated $1.8 million fiscal impact for the VCCS and a $6.7 million fiscal impact for school divisions and/or parents of public school students.  

Dual Enrollment and Transferability

SB 1534 (Sen. Sturdevant) and HB 1662 (Del. Greason) both require the State Council for Higher Education in Virginia to establish a policy for granting undergraduate general education course credit to any entering freshman who has successfully completed a dual enrollment course. SB 1534 passed both the House and the Senate unanimously, and has been enrolled. HB 1662 is on the Senate floor and is moving ahead. These identical bills will make it more transparent and uniform for parents and high-school students to understand that completion of general education dual enrollment classes in high school will be automatically transferable to four-year public universities, thereby making the four-year experiences more affordable. 

Passport Transfer Courses

SB 1234 (Sen. Dunnavant) outlines that the State Council of Higher Education in Virginia will develop guidelines so that certain general education course credits earned at our community colleges will be labeled as “passport” classes and guaranteed to transfer to four-year institutions. Competencies and standards for each passport course will be determined by SCHEV, working in concert with four-year institutions and the VCCS. By July 1, 2018, SCHEV will provide the Senate Committee on Education and Health and the House Committee on Education with an overview of the course competencies and standards, and a plan for ongoing data analysis and updates. By the same date, SCHEV will develop a list of general education courses guaranteed to transfer from each associate-degree granting institution to a baccalaureate institution of higher education. By July 1, 2019, SCHEV will develop a listing of program-specific courses guaranteed to transfer. The entire passport credit program will be developed by July 1, 2020, and fully implemented by the 2020-2021 academic year. 

TANF Funds for Community College Scholarships

Senator William Stanley’s SB 838 would allow for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families funding to be used to establish community college scholarships in a three-year pilot program at an urban and a rural community college serving 200 students at up to $4,000 apiece. The TANF funds would be transferred from the Department of Social Services (DSS) to the VCCS, and the VCCS would enter into a memorandum of understanding with DSS to establish the parameters of the program and the method for selecting students to participate. Using TANF funds for education is an allowable expense under TANF rules in order to “end dependence of needy parents by promoting job preparation, work, and marriage.” TANF funds have been used for scholarships in Florida since former Governor Jeb Bush’s administration. 

SB 838 was heard in the Higher Education Subcommittee of the House Education Committee on February 15. The subcommittee members recommended that the bill be reported and re-referred to the House Appropriations Committee. The full House Education Committee will act on this recommendation on February 20, and the bill is expected to be on the agenda for the Appropriations Committee the same day.

Bill List, and Next Week

The bill list by category is attached and was last updated Thursday night; the numerical bill list is also attached and was updated on Saturday morning.

A mid-week Roundup is likely this week, pending news on the budget. Check the VCCS blog for the latest updates.

2017 General Assembly Bill List by category 2.16.17 VCCS_Bills_02_18_2017

2017 General Assembly Bill List by category 2.16.17'

Ellen Davenport

Ellen Davenport is assistant vice chancellor for governmental relations for the VCCS. She works with the Chancellor and Virginia's 23 community college presidents to advance the financial and policy priorities of the VCCS with the Virginia General Assembly and Congress.

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