2008 General Assembly Session Overview
The General Assembly of Virginia will convene on January 9 at 12:00 noon. Facing the bodies will be passage of the “caboose” budget bill for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2008 and Governor Tim Kaine’s proposed $78 billion budget for the 2008-2010 biennium. The specter hovering over both budget bills will be a slowdown in the economy driven by the slump in the housing industry, causing Kaine to recommend a reduction in the current budget with over $300 million in cuts and $303 million from the “Rainy Day” fund. Any transfer from the “Rainy Day ” fund will be controversial and must be approved by the General Assembly.
Issues facing legislators include reforming Virginia’s mental health system and potentially making policy with regard to guns on campuses in the wake of last April’s tragic incident at Virginia Tech, establishing pre-school for all 4-year-olds who qualify for free and reduced lunch, re-benchmarking of the Standards of Quality, tackling immigration (especially related to admission to Virginia’s institutions of higher education), restricting payday loans, and revisiting the 2007 session’s decisions on how to finance the transportation system.
The Governor’s $1.65 million general obligation bond package, announced Dec. 13, contains $340 million for 28 community college projects, 23 of which are at each of Virginia’s community colleges.
New Committee Chairs
A Democratic majority will assume power in the Senate, while House Republicans maintain the majority in the House of Delegates. Both the House and Senate will have some restructuring, as committee chairmanships will change and membership will be realigned. These changes will be formally established tomorrow. All chairmanships of Senate committees will be assumed by new leadership; Senate chairmanships were contained in the Dec. 11 post. The following chairmanships (with five new committee chairs) have been announced in the House of Delegates:
Agriculture, Conservation, and Natural Resources–Harvey B. Morgan (R–Gloucester
Appropriations–Lacey E. Putney (I–Bedford)
Commerce and Labor–Terry G. Kilgore (R–Scott)
Counties, Cities and Towns–Riley E. Ingram (R–Hopewell)
Courts of Justice–David B. Albo (R–Fairfax)
Education–Robert Tata (R–Virginia Beach)
Finance–Harry R. “Bob” Purkey (R–Virginia Beach)
General Laws–Terrie L. Suit (R–Virginia Beach)
Health, Welfare and Institutions–Phillip A. Hamilton (R–Newport News)
Militia, Police and Public Safety–Beverly J. Sherwood (R–Frederick)
Privileges and Elections–Mark L. Cole (R–Spotsylvania)
Science and Technology–Kathy J. Byron (R–Lynchburg)
Rules–Speaker of the House William J. Howell (R–Stafford)
Transportation–Joe T. May (R–Loudoun)
Legislation Impacting Virginia’s Community Colleges
The 2008 session will feature a myriad of bills of interest to Virginia’s community colleges. The VCCS will maintain an active weblink to bills that have been identified that are of interest to Virginia’s community colleges. Please stay tuned to this web log throughout the 2008 General Assembly session as updates will be posted continuously.
Transfer Grants. SB 148 has been filed by Senator Walter Stosch, the patron of the 2007 Transfer Grant legislation. SB 148 will allow students who were enrolled in the summer of 2007 to take advantage of community college transfer grants. (The bill that passed in 2007 applied the scholarship grant money to students who began at community colleges during the fall 2007 semester).
Scholarship Match legislation. Three bills have been filed to enact the concept of a community college scholarship match program, and more are expected. SB 125 (Edwards), HB 117 (Landes), and HB 512 (Dance) will increase access to higher education for 3,333 new Virginians. The legislation will provide matching funds from the Commonwealth of Virginia to community college foundations and the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education on a dollar for dollar basis up to an annual amount of $5 million per year. The state match will correspond to every dollar donated by private individuals, foundations, or corporations after July 1, 2008.
Posted by Ellen Davenport