Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Congress passes funding bill; White House holds community college summit; Dream bill fails; State election update

Congress Passes Funding Measure

With the start of a new fiscal year today, Oct. 1, the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate passed a funding measure earlier this week to keep federal government programs operating at current fiscal year 2010 funding levels. The approved continuing resolution is in effect until Dec. 3, 2010.

Congress is expected to come back into session after the November elections. Members are scheduled to return for a week, the week of Nov. 15, and then return the week of Nov. 29 to finish business. When Congress returns, they will address a funding measure that will provide funding for all or part of fiscal year 2011.

There are 12 appropriations bills Congress needs to act on, including the bill that addresses higher education, the Labor-HHS-Education bill. In the Senate, that bill was approved by the full Appropriations committee late July. In the House, the Labor-HHS-Education appropriations subcommittee approved a draft bill mid-July. The main difference between the two bills is largely attributable to Pell Grant funding. The House includes $5.7 billion toward the Pell Grant shortfall, while the Senate does not include any funding.

Community College Summit to meet next week

The White House is hosting a summit next week to discuss how community colleges can ensure that the U.S. has the best educated workforce in the world in order for businesses in the United States to compete in the global economy. Summit participants will also address President Obama’s goal to lead the world with the highest proportion of college graduates by 2020.

The opening and closing session of the White House Summit on Community Colleges will be streamed live Tuesday, Oct. 5. The opening session begins at 12:15 p.m. EDT and the closing session begins at 3:00 p.m. EDT. You can find a link here.

Summit participants include; Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden and a community college English professor, who will lead the summit; U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan; U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis; Admiral Mike Mullen, chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; William Green, chair and CEO of Accenture; Eduardo PadrĂ³n, president of Miami Dade College in Florida; Jim Jacobs, president of Macomb Community College in Michigan; Ted Carey, president of the American Student Association of Community Colleges; Albert Ojeda, graduate of Estrella Mountain Community College in Arizona; and an honors student at Arizona State University.

The White House has been accepting questions and topics for discussion here.

AASCU Policy Brief now available - Boosting Financial Literacy in America: A Role for State Colleges and Universities

The American Association of State Colleges and Universities, or AASCU, has released the latest installment from its Perspectives series entitled; Boosting Financial Literacy in America: A Role for State Colleges and Universities. The papers released by AASCU take a more in-depth look at current higher education issues. This most recent paper can be found here.

State colleges and universities have an opportunity to provide financial education programs and services that can elevate financial literacy. This paper discusses the implications financial literacy has on the collective economic and societal interests and sets forth arguments for why state colleges and universities are well-positioned to meet this challenge.

DREAM Act bill falls flat

Last week, U.S. Senate Democrats attempted to offer the DREAM Act bill as an amendment to the Defense Department bill. Democrats, who hold the majority in the Senate, only needed one Republican vote in order to get the 60 votes necessary to take up the Defense bill without threat of a filibuster. They did not get the 60 votes needed and instead the Senate proceeded to the debate on the full bill.

The DREAM Act would create a path to citizenship for undocumented students and make them eligible for some federal student aid. Supporters see the DREAM Act as the solution to many barriers facing illegal immigrants who want to enroll in college and go on to well-paying jobs and productive lives in the United States. Those who oppose the measure, say it would reward illegal behavior and encourage more immigration.

Supporters of the DREAM Act say this is only a setback and have vowed to find another legislative vehicle for the bill.

Gubernatorial candidates discuss higher education

The three major candidates running for governor in Minnesota: Independent candidate Tom Horner, Republican candidate Tom Emmer, and DFL candidate Mark Dayton, visited the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Office of the Chancellor last week for a brief interview with Board of Trustees Chair Scott Thiss and Winona State University Student Caitlin Stene.

The candidates for governor forum was sponsored by the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Board of Trustees, the Minnesota State College Student Association and the Minnesota State University Student Association. The taped interviews, which include each candidates thoughts on higher education, and specifically the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, will be available soon for viewing. We will notify you when the link is available.

As a reminder, election Day is Nov. 2, 2010. Offices up for election this year are state senators and representatives, state executive officers including the governor, and U.S. representatives. You may tune in to election activity and campus events on the government relations Web site.