BLACKSBURG – Governor Terry McAuliffe today announced a series of legislative proposals aimed at building the new Virginia economy by expanding education opportunities and strengthening workforce development. The Governor was joined by Secretary of Education Dietra Trent and Secretary of Commerce and Trade Todd Haymore at Virginia Tech for the announcement.
“Working together with legislators, stakeholders, advocates, agencies, and local leaders, I am proud to say that over the past three years, we have brought Virginia’s education and workforce into the 21st century,” said Governor McAuliffe, speaking at today’s announcement. “But there is still more to do. Last year, there were 149,000 jobs available in the high-tech sector alone. These proposals are intended to continue building the education and training system we need to prepare students to fill these jobs and to help us attract and create even more. I look forward to working with the General Assembly to enact these commonsense, bipartisan proposals and continue to build the new Virginia economy.”
The Governor’s legislative package builds on the budget he introduced in December, which does not make any program cuts to K-12 education, despite the Commonwealth’s revenue shortfall.
“The bill package Governor McAuliffe outlined today builds upon three years of progress and cements his legacy as the Education Governor,” said Secretary of Education Dietra Trent. “From incentivizing on-time degree completion to expanding opportunities and increasing access to resources, this legislation furthers the Governor’s goal of bringing education into the 21st century and ensures that more students will be successful in the workforce of the future.”
“Today’s announcement furthers the Governor’s commitment to filling the number of skilled and technical jobs that the new Virginia economy needs by building on previous years’ bipartisan efforts,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Todd Haymore. “The Governor’s workforce agenda for the 2017 General Assembly Session extends this administration’s commitment to increasing postsecondary credential attainment, fostering entrepreneurship, and providing career pathways to economic empowerment.”
The education and workforce bills in the Governor’s legislative package include:
A Full-Time Virtual Education Option: Expands access to virtual education by requiring each school division to provide a free, full-time virtual learning option to students in grades K-12, ensuring students have access to 21st century educational opportunities.
Virginia Guaranteed Assistance Program Reform: Provides a variety of innovative incentives for more students to graduate on time with less debt by expanding eligibility, tying students’ awards to staying on a four-year graduation track, and giving universities the option to award larger grant amounts to students as they progress. The Governor’s proposed legislation will also remove the requirement that grant recipients be dependents of parents or another custodian in order to expand access to non-traditional students.
Foster Care Tuition Grant: Expands the pool of recipients eligible for the Virginia Community College System’s Foster Care tuition grant program by opening it up to students pursuing non-credit workforce credentials, increasing access to training that leads to good-paying jobs.
College Credits for Apprenticeships: Requires community colleges to have policies and procedures in place for awarding college credits for apprenticeship related instruction, expanding access to in-demand credentials for non-traditional students.
Youth Entrepreneurship: Allows entrepreneurs under 25 to register their E-mail, instead of a physical address, with the State Corporation Commission, eliminating a significant barrier for college students and young adults and encouraging more students to pursue business ventures.
State Licensure of Student Loan Services: Grants the Virginia State Corporation Commission the authority to regulate student loan servicers to minimize potential predatory practices and establishes a state ombudsman to provide guidance and direction to students regarding their rights and responsibilities as borrowers, providing the Commonwealth’s students with essential financial protection.