Posted on Monday, March 3, 2014

Community College Workforce Training Bill Still in the House of Delegates

Chancellor Glenn DuBois testified before the Higher Education Subcommittee of the House Education Committee on February 25 in support of SB 628 (Ruff).  This legislation will expand Virginia’s skilled workforce by establishing an incentive of $1,000 for each  Virginia student who completes both training and testing for an industry-recognized certification or licensure.  Funding for the initiative is included in the Senate biennial budget in the amount of $1,000,000 each year. 

The bill was recommended for reporting to the House Education Committee on a 9-1 vote.  The House Education Committee on February 26 reported the bill 21-1 and recommended it for re–referral to the House Appropriations Committee, where it will be heard in the Higher Education Subcommittee on March 3. 

Virginia is currently at a competitive disadvantage with regard to state support for workforce training instruction.  Our neighboring states of Maryland, North Carolina, and South Carolina all have FTE-based funding formulas which recognize the importance of non-credit instruction. The passage and funding of SB 628 will begin to put Virginia on par with our neighbors by investing state funding to train more Virginians with the industry-recognized credentials demanded by Virginia’s businesses.

Update on Transfer Grant Legislation

HB 133 (Cole)  was amended in the Senate Finance Committee on February 26 to combine the spring transfer element that is contained in the introduced version of HB 133 with the increased funding that represents the difference between two and four-year tuition in SB 429 (Hanger).  The Senate budget includes $2.4 million in FY 2015 and $3.0 million  in FY 2016 to enhance two-year transfer grants. 

State Board Bill On Its Way To The Governor

HB 356 (Cox) unanimously passed the Senate on February 24, was enrolled by the House of Delegates on February 26, and is on its way to Governor Terry McAuliffe.  This legislation contains technical amendments relating to the election of the Vice-Chairman of the State Board and aligns the Code of Virginia with the State Board’s policy manual with respect to stipulating that a quorum is  eight, and not seven, members of the 15-member board.  HB 356 also allows the main office of the State Board to remain in the City of Richmond or locate elsewhere in the Commonwealth. 

Budget Conference Officially Underway

House and Senate budget negotiators officially went to work yesterday, as each house rejected the budget of the other house.  Conferees from the House Appropriations Committee, named several weeks ago are Delegates S. Chris Jones, R. Steven “Steve” Landes, M. Kirkland “Kirk” Cox,  John M. O’Bannon, III, Thomas A. “Tag” Greason, and  Johnny S. Joannou. Senate budget conferees named yesterday on the “caboose bill” (HB/SB 29) are Walter A. Stosch, Charles J. Colgan, Janet D. Howell, Thomas K. Norment, Jr., Emmett W. Hanger, Jr., and Richard L. Saslaw .  Senator John C. Watkins will replace Senator Stosch on the biennial budget bill (HB/SB 30). 

Because of differences in expanding Medicaid, rumors are swirling that the conferees will not finish their work in order to have a floor vote on the budget by March 6 and adjournment  by March 8. 

Both the House and Senate budgets are favorable for the Virginia Community College System.  Both budgets retain the new funding for the VCCS that was recommended in the  budget introduced by former Governor Bob McDonnell as well as increases in employee compensation.  Please focus your efforts with the budget conferees and your own legislators, on these good recommendations as well as passage and funding of the Community College Workforce Training Bill (SB 628)  and passage and funding of enhanced transfer grant legislation ( HB 133/SB 429 ). 

Legislative Reception

Check the VCCS Flickr album for photos from Wednesday’s legislative reception and delivery of the cut-outs to General Assembly members next week!'

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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