System-wide at Virginia’s Community Colleges, planning continues in order to implement G3, Governor Northam’s plan for expanded access to community colleges starting in the fall semester.
There are significant details yet to be determined because of major differences between the spending plans put forth by House and Senate budget writers.
Budget writers in both chambers of the legislature reduced the governor’s recommended $145 million over the next two years. Currently, the House recommendation totals $69 million over the biennium and the Senate biennial total is $96 million.
The House retains the eligibility for participants at 400% of poverty ($100 thousand family income for family of four.) But the Senate reduces eligibility to 200%.
The House removes the “Give Back” community service requirement, but the Senate retains it.
House and Senate budget negotiators will report back their compromise proposal in the final hours of the legislative session, which is scheduled to end March 7.
VCCS Chancellor Glenn DuBois is clearly excited at the prospect of rolling out G3 programs. Here’s an excerpt of a message from the chancellor to the Virginia Community College Association:
“G3 is an innovative financial aid program that will create more affordable pathways for eligible students to select programs in high-demand and high-value career fields like Healthcare, Information Technology and Computer Science, Manufacturing and Skilled Trades, Early Childhood Education, and Public Safety.
“Eligible programs are being restructured as a series of stackable credentials leading to an applied associate degree. Each step along the way represents a credential that has value in the marketplace.
“Much like our FastForward credentials training program, G3 aims to package opportunities our community colleges offer in ways that are more affordable, more accessible, and more realistic for the real-life demands that ALICE endures. ALICE is becoming a more prominent focus of our mission because serving ALICE more effectively benefits all of Virginia in three distinct ways.
“First, when hard-working individuals earn postsecondary credentials they qualify for jobs in high-demand fields that offer family-supporting salaries and other benefits like healthcare and paid time off. Second, Virginia businesses that struggle to find skilled and trained talent can finally fill positions that are available now. And, third, Virginia’s General Fund – what we use to pay for schools, first responders, and highways, etc. – benefits from greater income tax withholdings.”
OTHER ITEMS OF IMPORTANCE AT THE CAPITOL THIS SESSION:
There’s a renewed push at this year’s legislative session to freeze tuitions at state supported colleges and universities.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that House budget writers have included $112 million in their spending plan to support a tuition freeze for the next two years. Senators did not include tuition freeze funding in their version of the budget. Budget negotiators will present their proposal in the closing hours of the legislative session.
The tuition freeze for 2019-20, funded by lawmakers at their session last year, was the first such freeze in nearly two decades.
Also on the tuition front, the Roanoke Star reports that both houses of the General Assembly have advanced bills to make students living in the U.S. without documentation eligible for in-state tuition.
Other highlights from Ellen Davenport’s legislative report of Friday, Feb. 21:
Minimum Wage, Collective Bargaining
SB 7 (Saslaw) has been referred to the House Labor and Commerce Committee. HB 395 (Ward) was approved in the Senate yesterday, with an amendment for the Virginia Economic Development Partnership to review the impact of instituting a regional minimum wage, with their report due on November 30, 2022.
SB 939 (Saslaw) has been referred to the House Committee of Labor and Commerce. The bill allows counties, cities, and towns to adopt local ordinances authorizing them to (i) recognize any labor union or other employee association as a bargaining agent of any public officers or employees, including public school employees, and (ii) collectively bargain or enter into any collective bargaining contract with any such union or association or its agents with respect to any matter relating to them or their employment.
HB 582 (Guzman) has been referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce and Labor. It repeals the prohibition on collective bargaining by public employees. In addition to local government and school board employees, HB 582 encompasses employees of public institutions of higher education, including the VCCS, to engage in collective bargaining.
It is expected that these four bills will end up in conference.
To read the full list of bills and measures tracked by the VCCS team at the General Asssembly, click here.
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