The 108th General Assembly of Tennessee wrapped up its 2014 business last week despite significant controversy and tension over taxes, budgets, and education. As in years past, the legislature produced just under 3,000 bills for consideration and an additional 2,499 resolutions. Due to the sheer scope of the University of Tennessee System, over 600 bills were tracked with either direct or indirect impacts.
So, where does that leave us for 2014? A summary of legislative outcomes, created for UT Advocates, is below.
The House Education Subcommittee will hear The Tennessee Promise Scholarship Act of 2014 (HB2491) on Tuesday afternoon at 3:00 pm CST (Watch live by clicking here). The Tennessee Promise, part of the Governor’s Drive to 55 Initiative, is a last-dollar scholarship proposal for Tennessee high school graduates seeking to attend a community college or Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT). You can read more about the Tennessee Promise here.
The University of Tennessee supports this legislation, although some concerns have been voiced regarding enrollment at regional institutions such as UT Martin and UT Chattanooga. In the House Finance Committee this week, President DiPietro voiced support for the consideration of “safety net” measures for regional four-year institutions who could potentially experience enrollment setbacks due to the migration of students to community colleges or TCATs.
After a series of discussions on higher education and workforce development with business and community leaders, elected officials, educators and administrators, the Haslam Administration announced yesterday evening that they will not be seeking legislation to alter the structure of higher education governance this year.
The Governor stated that his administration had nothing major in terms of legislation planned for public higher education institutions. However, the Governor did state that he remains concerned about the rising student cost to attend college, and announced that his administration will continue to look for ways to help relieve the burden of that cost. Expanding scholarship opportunities is one potential avenue the administration is considering.
Quoted by theChattanooga Times Free Press, the Governor revealed some of the items up for discussion. “We’re looking at everything from broadening the scholarship program we have now, tnAchieves, and helping people go to community colleges free or whether we can make better use of an online education program that might work for some people to continuing what Tennessee started with the Complete College Act.”
The Tennessee General Assembly convenes on January 8, 2013. Check back for updates on the Governor’s higher education agenda as well other legislation that would impact the University of Tennessee System.
The 2012 Lottery Scholarship Annual Report was released today for THEC’s Summer meeting. The report reveals that for the first time, the UT System has a higher graduation rate for first-time freshman graduating with their lottery scholarships intact than all other higher education systems in the state (both public and private). Continue reading →