Posted on Thursday, February 11, 2016

House and Senate Workforce Credentials Bills Clear Committees of Origin

A substitute for HB 66 (Byron) passed out of the House Education Committee on February 10.  The bill was unanimously reported from the Higher Education Subcommittee on Feb. 9.  All House workforce bills (HB 792, HB 793, HB 1206) have been tabled, and those bills’ patrons have signed on as co-patrons to HB 66 along with 20 other co-patrons. 

SB 576 (Ruff) was heard in the Senate Education and Health Committee today; before Senator Ruff presented the bill, Chairman Steve Newman described it  as “one of the most important pieces of legislation we are going to be considering this session.” 

Another version of Senator Ruff’s workforce credentials bill, SB 575, was stricken by the patron. 

HB 66 and SB 576 establish the “New Economy Workforce Credentials Grant Fund”  and focus on the alignment of workforce training programs with the needs of business and industry.  Over the next 10 years, an estimated 1.4 million jobs will need to be created that require more than a high school diploma and less than a bachelor’s degree.  HB 66  and SB 576 create a revolving fund that will be administered by SCHEV.   Students will first apply for state grants in high demand fields that have been identified by business and industry and  pay 1/3 of the cost of the training.  Once the student completes the course, the institution will be reimbursed 1/3 of the cost of the training. Finally, when the student attains the credential, the institution  receives  the final 1/3 payment.  Community colleges, Virginia’s public higher education centers, the New College Institute, and the  IALR in Danville will deliver  the training to the students.  The state investment is capped at $3,000 per student credential.   

This is the first performance-based program for award of workforce credentials in the country, and marks an important milestone for the Virginia Community College System!

Capital Bills Containing Priority VCCS Projects Move Forward

HB 1344 (Jones) cleared the House Appropriations Committee yesterday. HB 1344 authorizes the Virginia Public Building Authority and the Virginia College Building Authority to issue bonds in a total aggregate amount not to exceed $1,504,400,000 plus costs to fund  capital projects, including VCCS priority projects.   The current version of HB 1344 also transfers detailed planning money out of the budget bill and folds it into the bond issue. 

This afternoon, the Senate Finance Committee is holding a special meeting and will be considering  SB 61 , SB 232 , and SB 731. SB 61 (Hanger). authorizes a higher education bond issue for revenue-producing projects. 

SB 232 revises the Commonwealth’s 6-year capital outlay plan for projects that are funded entirely or partially from general fund-supported resources and contains 15 VCCS projects. SB 731 would allow the Virginia College Building Authority and the Virginia Public Building Authority  to issue bonds for port improvements, water improvements, higher education research and $1,640,293,000 in agency and higher education projects.

Bill List

A bill list updated this morning is attached.  A flurry of bill amendments and substitute bills are being considered and there are still a lot of moving parts on bills that are important to the VCCS.  Another “Roundup” will be send to  you in the next few days, after more bills have cleared their house of origin! After “Crossover” on February 16, the list will be condensed to only include bills that are still viable.'

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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