Category Archives: Legislative News

Recession impacts local colleges and students

Roanoke’s WSLS ran a story last night looking at the impact of the recession on colleges and the students who attend them.  The mission of Virginia’s Community Colleges – to address the commonwealth’s unmet needs in higher education – is proving to be critical for more and more people:

The recession is also forcing students already enrolled in four year universities to drop out, move home, and sign up at their local community college.  And—those already in the work force—who’ve been layed off—are enrolling in community colleges. Virginia Western says they could be reasons behind the about 6-percent jump in its spring enrollment.

As the VCCS reported last month, Virginia Western Community College’s growing enrollment is being seen at community colleges across the commonwealth.

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Tidewater Community College hosting inaugural simulcast for the community

A story today at Inside HigherEd.com talks about the involvement of colleges and universities across the nation in this month’s inauguration of President Barack Obama.  Tidewater Community Community College earned a mention for hosting an event for the entire community.

Tidewater Community College in Norfolk, Va. is extending an invitation to the its surrounding neighborhood to gather for the event. It will host an inauguration simulcast on the large-screen of its downtown arts center, a restored 1920’s Loew’s Theater, which can seat 800.

“This is the first-time we’ve done something like this,” said Laurie S. White, Tidewater spokeswoman, adding that she anticipates a capacity crowd given the excitement on her campus. “We still have classes that day, but we’re expecting some classes to join us in the theater for the event.” 

Just like the other Virginia community colleges that are hosting public hearings on Governor Tim Kaine’s budget proposals, this is a reminder of why the word “community” is so prominent in both the names and missions of Virginia’s Community Colleges.

USA TODAY: Support community college

A recent editorial from USA TODAY explained, once again, how vital community colleges are to America’s efforts to shake-off this bad economy.  Further, it said that investments in community colleges need to be a central piece of the next federal economic stimulus package:

Consider these facts:

• Community colleges educate roughly half of all students but receive only a fourth of what’s handed out in local and state funds to four-year public and private colleges.

• Over the next decade, at least 57% of all job openings will require post secondary education but not necessarily a four-year degree. Some of the highest-demand workers get their job training at community colleges, including half of new nurses. As many as 40% of teachers get their academic start at community colleges.

• Community colleges reach many students four-year colleges miss, including 35% of undergraduate minority students and 39% of undergrads who are the first generation in their family to attend college.

• While many private, four-year colleges are seeing dips in applications, community college enrollments this fall rose by 8-10%. And yet in most states, the per-student aid is shrinking.

We can only hope this message is being heard by those who are deciding on the details of that economic stimulus plan.

What Governor Kaine said about community colleges in his budget cutting speech

The following excerpts come from the Governor’s prepared remarks, which you can see by clicking here:

In higher education, our October actions reduced schools’ 2009 base budgets by 5 to 7%. For 2010, I have increased the reductions to 15% for all schools, except the community colleges and Richard Bland, which will have the reduction level increased to 10%.

My introduced budget includes nearly $26 million in additional money for need-based financial aid. This money will bring every institution up to at least 65 percent of the target financial aid level that has been recommended by SCHEV. My introduced budget also includes increases in the Community College Transfer Grant program, helping more students begin their higher educations at a two-year college and then transfer to a four-year institution to get their degree at a lower cost to their families…

While there are many challenges ahead of us, we can look forward with hope. Even in this atmosphere, our excellent schools, colleges and universities produce the ideas and graduates that will keep driving our economy. The advances we have made in career and technical education and our restructuring of workforce efforts under the community college system enable us to better prepare our dedicated workforce. Our international connections through the Port of Virginia and Dulles Airport give us a unique ability to be a leader in global commerce. These strengths and many others of our beloved Commonwealth continue to be our ticket to a prosperous future.

Governor Kaine announces 10% cut to Virginia’s Community Colleges

Governor Tim Kaine, while addressing General Assembly members on his budget recommendations, just announced a 10% budget cut to Virginia’s Community Colleges and Richard Bland College.  He also announced a 15% cut to Virginia’s four-year public colleges and universities.

The size and scope of Virginia’s budget problem

In just a few minutes, Governor Tim Kaine will speak to a joint meeting of the General Assembly budget committees.  He is expected to announce cuts to both the state budget and state workforce.

We will blog about the details we learn today with regard to their impact on Virginia’s Community Colleges.

In the press clips this morning, we are learning about the size and scope of the budget challenge.  This was part of the report from Bob Lewis at the Associated Press: 

In his Wednesday morning address to the General Assembly’s money committees, Mr. Kaine will increase the official estimate of the projected budget shortfall through June 2010 to nearly $3 billion, said two Democratic legislative leaders who spoke anonymously because the governor had not made his plans public.

 

In his fourth round of cuts in barely a year, Mr. Kaine will propose about $1.7 billion in cuts on top of nearly $2 billion in earlier reductions spanning two state budgets, the legislators said in separate interviews with the Associated Press.

 

Jeff Shapiro with the Richmond Times-Dispatchis reporting that a cigarette tax hike that is part of Kaine’s plan is almost certain to lead to a fight with the Republican leaders of the House of Delegates:

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine’s proposal for balancing Virginia’s recession-ravaged budget includes doubling the cigarette tax, delaying an environmental tax break, drawing nearly $500 million from the “rainy-day fund” and pruning 1,500 state jobs, including 530 new layoffs.

 

The package Kaine will detail today, in which he would again go back on a promise not to raise taxes, is drawing criticism from tobacco-industry allies — among them, senior Republicans.

We’ll have more here as the day unfolds.

Virginia state budget details start to emerge

The snow flurries that appeared yesterday in parts of the commonwealth were not the only indication that Virginia’s winter may be long, dark and bitter.

According to a report from AP reporter Bob Lewis, General Assembly leaders are beginning to learn some of the grim details that confront Virginia’s budget.

…budget writers got their fullest look Tuesday at a darkening fiscal crisis that will soon force them to cut government priorities once held harmless.

“You are at the juncture where all the low-hanging fruit is gone,” members of the House Appropriations Committee learned from the chief of the committee staff, Robert Vaughn.

Virginia’s Community Colleges have already absorbed two different 5% cuts this year – a reduction of $40 million – despite the fact it is continuing to shatter previous enrollment records.

It is hard, however, to find much of a silver lining in the information being presented to law makers:

In the hard-hit real estate sector, Virginia in October saw a tenfold increase in the number of home foreclosures since 2004. People who held onto their homes have seen their equity wither the past two years. One telling measure from the Washington, D.C., market is that the percentage of people who forfeited deposits they had put down on contract to buy a house increased from 4 percent in 2005 to spike at 66 percent in August, largely a measure of buyers who could not secure financing, according to a George Mason University analysis.

Legislators were told to expect a grim 2009, expect a recovery late that year or early 2010, then a more robust economic expansion in 2011. Other glimmers of hope:

_Fuel prices continue to fall as the nation enters the winter heating season.

_There are signs that the worst of the housing slump may be over. And homes are more affordable now than they have been in three years.

_Military spending continues to buttress Virginia’s economy with an 18 percent increase in the past quarter. Virginia is second only to California in military spending.

We will learn more December 17 when Governor Kaine offers his budget amendments to a joint meeting of the General Assembly money committees.

Posted by Jeff Kraus