Posted on Thursday, March 14, 2019

During a winter legislative session when much of the public’s attention was focused on non-budget issues, Virginia lawmakers made spending decisions that will have major and positive impacts on VCCS students and employees.

Virginia Highlands Community College – file photo

While legislative consensus has formed around the numbers in this article, it’s important to remember that lawmakers will return to Richmond in April to consider the governor’s final budget recommendations. So, please consider this report to be a snapshot, based on the best information at our disposal at this time.

College affordability:
The 2019 General Assembly allocated money intended to help Virginia’s public colleges and universities hold the line on in-state tuition increases in the coming year. These “tuition moderation” funds include $13.1 million to the VCCS.

“I’m grateful the legislature has provided funding that will enable us to make a strong recommendation to the VCCS State Board to maintain tuition levels next academic year at current levels for in-state students,” said Glenn DuBois, chancellor of Virginia’s Community Colleges. More than 90% of VCCS students are Virginia residents.

The Chancellor’s recommendation is important, of course, but it’s not the final word. The VCCS State Board will discuss tuition matters during its meeting March 21, and vote on tuitions at its meeting May 16.

The General Assembly’s budget also sets aside almost $3.5 million dollars for new need-based financial aid for VCCS students in academic and workforce training programs.

Patrick Henry Community College – file photo

In addition, lawmakers agreed to increase funding for Virginia’s Workforce Credential Grants, which support VCCS’s FastForward workforce training programs. The additional funding will boost FastForward grant funding in the next budget year to $13.5 million (a 42% increase), and was a top priority for the VCCS at the 2019 legislature.

“We’re thrilled that the legislature continues to recognize the value of this investment in the commonwealth’s future,” said DuBois. “FastForward not only helps Virginians train for family-supporting careers, it also helps Virginia employers secure the skilled workers they need for our 21st century economy. Everybody benefits when we have a more skilled workforce.”

As part of the state’s response to the pending location of the new Amazon headquarters in Northern Virginia, lawmakers allocated $16.6 million to boost the number of students earning degrees in technology-related fields. This measure creates a competitive funding pool for all of Virginia’s institutions of higher education, including VCCS.
Investing in our people:

Salary Increases will be reflected in paychecks as of July 1.

VCCS full-time and adjunct faculty will receive a 3 percent salary increase.

The budget approved by lawmakers calls for a 2.75 percent salary increase for all full-time classified state employees, plus an additional 2.25 percent merit increase for classified state employees with at least 3 years of service and a positive performance review from last year.

VCCS’s part-time (P-14) classified employees will see a pay boost of at least two percent. The Chancellor is seeking permission from state budget writers to boost our P-14 worker salaries 2.75 percent. A final decision on this is expected in April.

The new state budget also is good news for state employees who participate in government-sponsored health care plans. Due to lower-than-projected health care insurance expenses, health insurance premiums for the VCCS and VCCS employees will be held constant in the year beginning July 1. In addition, the budget will allow a temporary “holiday” from paying health care premiums during two pay-periods in October.

“We are grateful to Virginia Community College employees for their dedication to the commonwealth and the students that we serve,” added DuBois. “In the coming weeks, we will provide updates on salary issues as additional information becomes available to us.”

jbabb@vccs.edu'

Jim Babb

Jim Babb works for Virginia's Community Colleges in the Office of Strategic Communications.

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