Governor Ralph Northam asked Virginia lawmakers at the beginning of their 2021 session to support his multi-million dollar plan to make community college job and career training more affordable for low and moderate income Virginians.
G3 (“Get a Skill, Get a Job, Give Back”) is a targeted program that would provide extra financial assistance to low-and-middle-income Virginians who seek training in the fields of healthcare, information technology and computer science, manufacturing and skilled trades, early childhood education, and public safety.
Lawmakers funded the initiative during their 2020 legislative session, but state government shelved the program before it began, when the coronavirus pandemic hit last spring and threw the economy into a tailspin.
But G3 is back, and Northam is asking the legislature to allocate money to provide extra financial assistance for community college students in the budget year that will begin July 1. Thousands of students could gain access to community colleges through the initiative.
“Education is the best tool we have to make our Commonwealth a better, more equitable place for everyone,” said Northam Wednesday night.
The governor spoke in a mostly empty House of Delegates chamber due to the pandemic.
House members are meeting virtually this year. The State Senate is meeting in socially-distanced digs at the Science Museum of Virginia.
“To help people get the skills training or education they need, particularly if they’re out of work because of the pandemic, my budget invests in the G3 program,” Northam continued.
“We have learned a lot in this past year, but the main thing is that we are all connected. What I do affects you, and what you do affects me. We are one Virginia, and we need to keep taking care of each other.”
“As we begin the session, we’re in a very strong position for our top priority,” said Ellen Davenport, VCCS assistant vice chancellor for government relations. “The budget proposal unveiled by the Governor in December includes $34.5 million for G3, and an additional $1.5 million for marketing, outreach, and public awareness.”
“Spending decisions must go through a lengthy process at the General Assembly. The House and Senate each consider their own budget bills before they cross over to the other chamber for further debate. A conference committee eventually hammers out a compromise, with final resolution occurring at the end of the session,” Davenport added.
“New this year, enabling legislation has been introduced which will establish G3 in the Code of Virginia, assuring its continuation beyond the current budget. Patrons of the enabling legislation are House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn (HB 2204) and Senate Majority Leader Richard Saslaw (SB 1405). The endorsement of Speaker Filler-Corn and Senator Saslaw by sponsoring the bills sends a powerful signal about to the importance of G3 to the citizens of Virginia.”
VCCS is also seeking budget support to boost student success by increasing the number of advisors to help students navigate an academic world that is foreign to many, especially when they are the first in their family to go to college.
As always, lawmakers face a vast array of requests for funding, and the next few weeks will generate intense of bargaining, even if it’s on the phone and not in hallways and committee rooms.
To see the full text of the governor’s speech, click here.