Delegate Cox’s “Top Jobs of the 21st Century” higher education reform bill unanimously passes the House of Delegates

HouseGOP2011 General Assembly Session, Education, Issues

–House Bill 2510 passed by a vote of 98-0–

RICHMOND, VA – Delegate M. Kirkland “Kirk” Cox’s (R- Colonial Heights) “Top Jobs” higher education reform bill, House Bill 2510, unanimously passed the House of Delegates yesterday. The comprehensive legislation is aimed at conferring an additional 100,000 associate and bachelor’s degrees for Virginians over the next 15 years. The 26 page comprehensive bill puts the recommendations of the Governor’s Commission on Higher Education, Reform, Innovation, and Investment into Virginia law. The Commission, comprised of legislators, college presidents, and business leaders, worked for seven months to develop innovative approaches to ensure that more Virginians have access to a top-quality education at an affordable price.

“We must ensure that Virginia’s higher education system is preparing our children for the jobs of the 21st century,” said Delegate Cox. “The ‘Top Jobs’ legislation will increase access for Virginia students to our colleges and universities at an affordable price and ensure that Virginia will continue to have a well-educated work force moving forward.”

To achieve the goal of conferring 100,000 additional degrees over the next fifteen years, a number of innovative components have been incorporated into the bill. Key components of the “Top Jobs” legislation include:

• Promoting public-private collaboration to increase degree attainment in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and in other high-income and high-demand fields, such as health care.

• Developing regional public-private strategies and incentives for increased university-based research and commercialization of research output.

• Restoring stable funding, rewarding enrollment growth and establishing Virginia student enrollment and degree-conferral targets.

• Encouraging reform-based investment at colleges and universities through better year-round utilization of campus facilities, technology-enhanced instruction and system-wide resource-sharing, innovative and affordable new pathways for obtaining degrees, including dual enrollment and community college transfer options, greater on-time and expedited degree completion, measuring and reporting the economic impact of degree programs, and other innovations.

• Easing tuition pressures as state support rebounds and promoting long-term affordability through more targeted low- and middle-income financial aid.

The Commission brought together stakeholders from both the public and private sectors, including eight college presidents, to find innovative solutions to improve higher education in Virginia. Cox, who was the Vice Chairman of the Commission, served on the Commission with Delegates Rosalyn Dance, Scott Lingamfelter (R- Prince William), Tom Rust (R- Herndon), and Bev Sherwood (R- Frederick). Tom Farrell, Chairman, President, and CEO of Dominion Resources and past Rector of the University of Virginia served as the Commission’s Chairman.

“Over the past seven months, the Commission has worked diligently to scrutinize these innovative proposals,” remarked Delegate Cox. “I especially want to thank the Commission’s chairman Tom Farrell and Delegate Dance, the chief co-patron of HB 2510.”

Many chambers of commerce, economic development, and education associations have offered their support for this legislation, including the Virginia Chamber of Commerce, the Virginia Business Higher Education Council, and the Northern Virginia Technology Council.

Delegate Cox concluded, “With such overwhelming support demonstrated by the unanimous passage of the bill today, I am optimistic that the bill will ultimately be signed into law by Governor McDonnell.”

Note: To see the full list of associations that endorsed the legislation, please visit: /news/viewRelease.cfm?id=575