Posted on Friday, January 30, 2015

Subcommittees of “Money” Committees Finishing Deliberations on Recommended Budgets Due Out on February 8

The subcommittee members of the House Appropriations Committee and the Senate Finance Committee are currently deliberating and finalizing recommendations for the HAC and SFC budgets that will be released on Sunday, February 8. The subcommittees scrutinize the December budget recommendations from Governor Terry McAuliffe, and advance or eliminate budget amendments introduced by General Assembly members this month. 

Funding priorities for the VCCS are currently under consideration in the Higher Education Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee and the Education Subcommittee of the Senate Finance Committee.  

Priorities for Virginia’s Community Colleges include the following:

Maintain funding included in Governor McAuliffe’s introduced budget

  • $1 million for need-based financial aid for VCCS students in non-credit workforce training. Existing financial aid programs require students to be enrolled in a credit-bearing program of study. Yet labor market research shows that many of the jobs in the new Virginia economy will require licenses and certifications that are earned through short-term, non-credit workforce training programs.

Support amendments in addition to Governor McAuliffe’s introduced budget

  • $7.5 million to lower the costs of training and instruction for students, enable community colleges to expand capacity, and meet community needs for more credentialed workers. This amendment supports SB 971 (Ruff) and would put an additional 7,500 credentials in the Virginia economy when a student successfully completes an industry-recognized credential identified regionally as “high demand” by business and industry.
  • $1 million to spur investment in the Rural Virginia Horseshoe Initiative which will elevate the educational attainment level in the most economically distressed parts of rural Virginia. Every dollar would be matched by three private dollars, raised by the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education and the local foundations serving the RVHI pilot colleges (Blue Ridge, Dabney S. Lancaster, Danville, Eastern Shore, Lord Fairfax, Mountain Empire, New River, Patrick Henry, Paul D. Camp, Rappahannock, Southside, Southwest, Virginia Highlands, and Wytheville).

In other budget news, Speaker of the House William Howell announced today that the House of Delegates will wait 48 hours prior to voting on the final budget conference report. Although the budget conference report is technically supposed to be ready to House and Senate members on the Tuesday before adjournment, in recent years the conferees have finished their work later and this amount of lead time has not been available.

Speaker Howell’s announcement outlined that this change will be made through the House rules and not in the Code of Virginia. (Several bills have been introduced this session which addressed the timing of the final budget presentation and the introduction of new items in the conference report that were not included in an earlier version of the budget).

Other Actions of Note This Week

All bills directing the State Board of Community Colleges to adopt a policy by December 31 for the award of academic credit for military training  are moving forward. SB 1335 (Cosgrove, Dance, and Stosch) was reported unanimously from the Senate Finance Committee on January 28 and was engrossed by the Senate unanimously today. Companion bills in the House, HB 2132 (Mason) and HB2354  (Yancey) are also gaining momentum and have been reported out of the Higher Education Subcommittee of the House Education Committee. 

HB 1677 (Byron) was tabled in the Higher Education Subcommittee of the House Education Committee last night. HB 1677 would have established the “New Economy Industry Credential Assistance Training Grants”  program, promoting the attainment of certification or credentialing in high-demand fields by lowering the cost of the programs to the student by direct award of funds. Students attending all community colleges, the private institutions certified to operate in Virginia by SCHEV, and the Institute of Advanced Learning and Research, the New College Institute, all Higher Education Centers, and Eastern Virginia Medical School would have been eligible. 

Student Visits

The snow in the northern and western parts of the state and concerns about safe travel for students led to the cancellation of four community college group visits on January 27 but 12 delegations were still able to get to Richmond and have meaningful interactions with their legislators this week. All community college student visits for the 2015 General Assembly session will wrap up on Thursday, February 5. Groups from 19 of the 23 colleges will visit next week! Representatives from Central, Blue Ridge, Reynolds, TCC-Norfolk, Paul D. Camp, two delegations from Northern Virginia, Patrick Henry, Southside, Danville, Dabney S. Lancaster, Germanna, New River, Virginia Highlands, Wytheville, John Tyler, Mountain Empire, Piedmont, Thomas Nelson, and Virginia Western will be in town next week. Whew!

For photos from this week’s visits, visit the VCCS Flickr page or the VCCS blog.

Bill Lists

The list of bills that are of interest to the VCCS has been updated and is available on the legislative-bill-tracking page. 

Photo above:  Group of John Tyler students meets with Del. Riley Ingram.'

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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