Posted on Monday, February 22, 2016

Budget Recommendations Revealed on Sunday

The House and Senate have already adjourned, as “crossover” concluded on Tuesday, bill passage deadlines are not looming,  and members of the House Appropriations Committee and the Senate Finance Committee work to finish their budget recommendations, which will be revealed on Sunday, Feb. 21.  The HAC will hold a briefing at 1:00 p.m., and the Senate Finance Committee’s briefing to the public is scheduled for 3:00 p.m.

These recommendations become incorporated into the budget bill of each house. The budget bills are scheduled to be voted on by each chamber on Thursday, Feb. 25. The bills will cross over to the opposite house, be rejected, and then a conference committee will be appointed.

Contained in the  introduced budget are a number of important funding initiatives for the VCCS:

  • $24.6 million to implement the New Economy Workforce Credentials Grant Fund.
  • $5.3 million each year to increase access and completion: to educate and graduate more Virginians and support URP student college completion.
  • $1.1 million each year to establish a veterans’ advising programs at the seven community colleges with the greatest number of student veterans.
  • $1.58 million over two years to expand cyber security training at all community colleges, all colleges to meet requirements for federal designation as a cyber security center of excellence. 
  • $300K in planning funds each year to support post-secondary transition programs in Central Virginia, the Tidewater area and Southwest Virginia
  • $250K each year for Rural Virginia Horseshoe Initiative.

New Economy Workforce Credentials Grant Fund

HB 66 (Byron) and SB 576 (Ruff) establish the “New Economy Workforce Credentials Grant Fund” and passed their houses of origin on Feb. 15.  Originating with the Chancellor’s Workforce Credentials Plan, these bills focus on the alignment of workforce training programs with the needs of business and industry.  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.  HB 66 has been referred to the Senate Education and Health Committee and SB 576 has been referred to the House Education Committee and will be heard on Monday, 2/22 at 8:30 a.m.  The Governor’s recommended budget contains $24.6 million over the biennium for this initiative.  

House, Senate Bond and Capital Bills

The introduced budget included a debt package for the VCCS including $214 million to fund 9 construction projects previously approved for planning and cash for detailed planning on 11 new capital projects. 

HB 1344 (Jones) 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, This bill includes VCCS college-specific priority projects that are ready to move to construction .   

SB 61 , SB 232 , and SB 731 are currently the Senate vehicles for capital outlay planning and bonded projects.  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 that are ready to go to the detailed planning stage.  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. SB 731 also includes three projects to move to detailed planning:  the renovation of Amherst/Campbell Hall at CVCC, the replacement of the French Slaughter Building at the Locust Grove campus of GCC, and the replacement of Diggs/Moore/Harrison complex at TNCC. A list of projects in HB 1344 and SB 731 follows:



HB 1344

SB 731


Replace Phase I Academic and Admin Bldg



NVCC, Woodbridge

Renovate Seefeldt Bldg/Replace Bldg Envelope



NVCC, Manassas

Renovate Howsman/Colgan Bldg




Improve Life Safety and Security Systems, Phase I




Repair,Replace Major Mechanical Systems




Construct Student Service and Learning Resources Center




Construct Bioscience Bldg




Renovate Bird Hall and Renovate/Expand Nicholas Center, Chester Campus




Construct Academic Bldg, Fauquier Campus




There are two studies which will have implications for the VCCS.  HJ 157 (Jones) requests that the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission conduct a study to (i) evaluate the system’s success in providing Virginians with the education, training, and credentials needed to succeed in the workforce; (ii) determine whether the system’s mission is aligned with the Commonwealth’s educational and workforce development priorities and complements the missions of the Commonwealth’s secondary and four-year higher education systems and its higher education centers including through dual enrollment and transfer agreements; (iii) assess the system’s success in making educational and training opportunities affordable; (iv) assess the spending and allocation of funds within the system; (v) assess how well the system’s central office supports each institution; (vi) assess the adequacy of centralized data and information systems to measure institutional effectiveness and to support sound funding decisions; and (vii) compare Virginia’s Community College System to the community college systems in other states. JLARC has not conducted a study of the VCCS since 1991. 

Meetings to gather information are to be conducted by November 30, 2016 and a first report submitted to the chairman of JLARC by the beginning of the 2017 General Assembly session.  The findings and conclusions are due on November 30, 2017 with the final report due at the beginning of the 2018 General Assembly session. 

SJ 96 (Dunnavant) calls for SCHEV, the Department of Education, and the VCCS to study college readiness.   Findings and recommendations are to include:  (i) college placement readiness testing in high school; (ii) the development of programs offered in high school to improve college readiness; (iii) increased utilization of dual enrollment to complete college requirements as an alternative to Advanced Placement classes; and (iv) development of a student education program that includes information on the cost of college, appropriate loan-to-debt ratios for college, return on investment for degrees based on pay and job availability, and alternatives to an undergraduate degree that include licensure and certification programs.


HB 450 (Taylor) requires the VCCS to establish veterans’ advising programs at the seven community colleges with the greatest number of student veterans.  Funding of $1.1 million is contained in the Governor’s budget for this initiative.'

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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