House budget includes funds to increase access and affordability for higher education in Virginia

The House budget proposal unveiled Sunday will include $19.8 million targeted to additional enrollment slots at Virginia schools and to increasing graduation rates. The budget proposal continues to build on the 2011 “Top Jobs of the 21st Century” legislation, which mapped out a plan to increase access to higher education in Virginia and to hold down costs for families. The House Appropriations Committee will present the House budget on Sunday, February 8 at 1 p.m. Speaking about the proposal, House Majority Leader Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights) said, “The House budget will target investments in higher education to increasing graduation rates and opening up additional enrollment slots at our top schools for Virginia families. Students who transfer after completing two years of community college have an 85 percent graduation rate. Our budget provides a $1,000 per student incentive for Virginia schools with graduation rates under 60 percent to accept these highly successful students. The budget also builds on our past work under the Top Jobs of the 21st Century plan to include funding for additional enrollment slots at our top schools.”

Video of Majority Leader Kirk Cox’s full remarks on the House floor will be available this afternoon on YouTube at

The House has already passed several pieces of legislation to make college more affordable for Virginia students. House Bill 1692, sponsored by Del. Nick Rush (R-Montgomery) gives students pursuing degrees in high-demand fields the option of a more affordable “flat-fee degree.” Delegate Ben Cline (R-Rockbridge) sponsored legislation that establishes a new cooperative bachelor's degree program in Virginia that lets students earn a bachelor’s degree for a total of $16,000 through the use of online, community college, or public or private college or university courses. House Bill 1897 (Cox) puts a cap on the athletic fees that Virginia colleges and universities can charge students.

Earlier this week, Delegate T. Scott Garrett announced on the House floor that the House budget will eliminate $10.2 million in fees proposed by Governor Terry McAuliffe, including the restaurant inspection fee, weights and measures fee and the underground storage deductible increase. Chairman Chris Jones announced last week that the House budget will include pay raises for state police, state employees, state-supported local employees and teachers.

Yesterday, Delegate John O’Bannon announced that the House budget will include $124.2 in funding for mental health care coverage and targeted safety net services for needy Virginians. The funding will provide targeted treatment services to the seriously mentally ill, nearly double funding for Virginia’s free clinics and build on past investments in community health services. The House budget will reject Governor McAuliffe’s effort to implement Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion and will not fund Governor McAuliffe’s “Healthy Virginia” entitlement program.