2020 Post-Session Update

G. Gilmer Minor, III, chairman, and Dennis H. Treacy, vice chairman, issued the following statement today on behalf of the Virginia Business Higher Education Council and its GROWTH4VA advocacy campaign:

“We applaud the nearly $450 million in new state investment in talent development and college affordability approved by the General Assembly today.

As we urged, the budget conferees combined the best of the higher education investments proposed by the Governor, Senate, and House of Delegates. Of greatest importance, the final budget invests in both talent and affordability—in producing more high-quality degrees and credentials that lead to good Virginia-based jobs, and in giving all Virginians affordable access to these crucial opportunities for social mobility, personal success, and contributing citizenship.

  • The talent investments include funding for the Tech Talent Investment Program, cyber and other high-demand degrees, more competitive compensation for instructional and research talent at our colleges and universities, more student internship opportunities with Virginia-based employers, and targeted capital and operating support for leading-edge programs.
  • The affordability investments include new funding for student financial aid and tuition assistance (TAG) grants, tuition moderation incentives, community college access, and work-study opportunities such as student internships.

Support for this balanced investment approach has been the hallmark of GROWTH4VA’S advocacy. We have urged the Commonwealth’s leaders to follow this dual strategy because quality in developing talent is what distinguishes our higher ed system from our competitors, and affordable access is what enables all Virginians to participate in its life-changing benefits.

The higher education budget adopted today reflects bipartisan recognition that our #1-ranked higher education system has been the major driver behind recent Virginia successes like the Amazon HQ2 investment and CNBC’s best-state-for-business ranking. The budget thus positions Virginia for future success in attracting talented young people from other states and drawing more job-creating businesses to our Commonwealth.

The budget plan adopted by the conferees and approved today also reinforces Virginia higher ed’s commitment to efficient performance and transparency for consumers. Our colleges and universities already stand out for efficiency, spending less per degree and producing higher graduation rates than neighboring states and institutional peers. In funding a comprehensive cost study by the State Council for Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV), as we recommended, the General Assembly will help ensure the optimal allocation of state and institutional dollars in a fast-changing education marketplace, benefiting consumers and taxpayers alike.

Ten years ago, after recession-driven budget cuts had slashed per-student state support for higher education in Virginia by roughly 50 percent, our bipartisan partnership of business, community, and educational leaders launched a campaign to make investments in talent development and college affordability a top priority in Virginia once again.

First through our GROW BY DEGREES campaign and coalition, and in recent years through our GROWTH4VA program, we have documented the unparalleled return on investment (ROI) that higher education generates for our Commonwealth, the confidence and pride Virginians have in our top-ranked colleges and universities, and the crucial connection that exists between workforce talent and economic growth for our state and between marketable degrees and lifelong success for our young people. We have rallied thousands of Virginians from all walks of life and leading business, civic, educational, and economic development organizations in the Commonwealth to support these vital reform-based investments for our future.

We are deeply grateful that, even as partisan fortunes have ebbed and flowed in Virginia over that decade, governors and legislative majorities in both parties have recognized the need and taken the actions to make sustained, forward-looking investments in talent and affordability through our higher education system.

The nearly $450 million in new investment approved today for our public and private colleges and universities is the latest reflection of this bipartisan consensus that our top-performing higher education system is Virginia’s chief competitive asset and the indispensable bridge to opportunity for our young people. Sustaining and building on that investment remains the single most important action our leaders can take to secure our future.

We congratulate our state’s leaders on this essential step forward and pledge our continued partnership in this important work.”

Growth4VA is a campaign of the Virginia Business Higher Education Council