Education and policy leaders recommend reforms to help community college students move down a well-defined path to degrees and careers.
In early March, Governor Bentley released his in conjunction with his State of the State address. The — which supports state operations, excluding education — would increase 20 percent to $2.3 billion. This budget incorporates expected revenues from eight tax changes and increases that the governor proposed to help prevent general fund shortfalls.
The (that funds all levels of education and a number of other programs), would total nearly $6 billion, an increase of 1.1 percent. Elementary and secondary schools would receive nearly $4 billion (up 3.9 percent); two-year colleges would receive $344 million (up 3.1 percent); and four-year colleges and universities would operate at $1.1 billion (up 5.3 percent).
Josh Raney, University of Arkansas
The Razor C.O.A.C.H. program is a three-year, grant-funded partnership between the University of Arkansas Counselor Education program and local high schools to assist at-risk students in college and career planning.
When Nicole Mejia opened the letters and found she’d been accepted to college, she “freaked out.”
“I was rolling on the floor. I was laughing, I was crying,” Mejia said. “My sister was looking at me like I was crazy.”
On March 25, the Kentucky Legislature adjourned sine die. The legislature passed House Bill 510 to amend the 2014-16 budget; on April 6 the governor signed it into law. Education legislation passed during the session includes House Bill 234, which requires the Early Childhood Advisory Council to develop a statewide early childhood education rating system, and House Bill 298, which authorizes $132.5 million in bond funding for a medical research center at the University of Kentucky.
The Mississippi Legislature completed its regular session on April 2 when the House adjourned, one day after the Senate completed its regular session. Legislators passed Senate Bill 2161, which creates the Commission on College and Career Readiness to recommend changes and additions to the Mississippi College and Career Readiness Standards. Senate Bill 2191 authorizes the state Board of Education to approve school districts of innovation, which will be given flexibility from state Board of Education and local school board policies to improve student outcomes.
Arkansas lawmakers concluded most of their work for the 2015 regular legislative session on April 2. The Arkansas General Assembly passed the Revenue Stabilization Act (Senate Bill 689 and House Bill 1548), which provides $5.2 billion in 2015-16, up 2.6 percent, including $2.2 billion to the Public School Fund, a 2.3 percent increase. Institutions of higher education will receive flat funding at $733.5 million.
Legislators recessed and will reconvene in the upcoming weeks to make technical changes to bills, consider any governor’s vetoes and formally adjourn the legislative session.
The Georgia Legislature adjourned sine die on April 2. On March 31, legislators adopted the for the budget bill, House Bill 76. The 2015-16 budget will provide $19.3 billion in general funds, a 5.2 percent increase over the original 2014-15 budget, with $9.4 billion devoted to the Quality Basic Education Program (up 5.9 percent) and $2 billion to higher education (up 5.1 percent).
Education legislation passed during the session includes Senate Resolution 287, a constitutional amendment to authorize the establishment of a state Opportunity School District to intervene at failing schools. The amendment will go before voters in 2016. Senate Bill 133 is the enabling legislation for the Opportunity School District amendment.