The 111th General Assembly of the State of Tennessee convened on Tuesday, January 8, 2019, for the first year of the two-year session. Representative Glen Casada was elected as the new House Speaker and Senator Randy McNally was re-elected as Lt. Governor and Speaker of the Senate.
Committee leadership decisions were made during this first week of the Session. Education and Finance are the two most critical committees monitored by TICUA. House Speaker Casada assigned Rep. Mark White as chair of the House Education Committee and Rep. Susan Lynn to chair the House Finance Committee. Lt. Governor McNally reappointed Sen. Dolores Gresham as the chair of the Senate Education Committee and Sen. Bo Watson as chair of the Senate Finance Committee.
House Speaker Casada also decided to create four subcommittees to the House Education Committee. They are Higher Education, chaired by Rep. Jim Coley; K-12, chaired by Rep. John Regan; Curriculum, Testing and Innovation, chaired by Rep. Debra Moody; and Education Administration, chaired by Rep. David Byrd.
Leadership has indicated that both chambers hope to have budget hearings completed by April 18th which will trigger the closing of committee business and a possible adjournment of the First Session by the last week of April or the first week of May.
Governor Bill Lee's Inauguration Set for January 19th
Newly elected Bill Lee will be sworn in as the 50th Governor of Tennessee on January 19th. To date, Governor-elect Lee has said little about his higher education agenda. Based on his recent public comments and campaign ads, it appears that vocational and agricultural education programs could be his focus. Lee’s State of the State address and budget request is scheduled to take place on March 4, 2019, which will more clearly reveal his priorities.
TSSA Proposed Improvement
Both the Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation Board and the Tennessee Higher Education Commission have proposed a $12.3 million improvement in the Tennessee Student Assistance Award, the state’s only need-based aid program. The improvement in the TSAA will be a huge step toward fully funding the grant program.
The improvement will go to serve an additional 6,875 students. Despite increased appropriations over recent years, approximately 40,000 eligible applicants are unfunded due to limited program funding. TSAC’s goal is to fully fund these eligible student applicants over a four-year period. The increase of $12.3 million over the current funding level would bring the total number of awarded students to over 61,000.
TICUA has been a long-time supporter of the TSAA grant. About one-third of the funds go to assist students attending member campuses. TICUA has expressed its desire for Governor-elect Lee to include the improvement in the Administration’s budget request.
TICUA 63rd Annual Meeting- February 19th and 20th
“New Leadership – New Opportunities” is the theme of the upcoming TICUA 63rd Annual Meeting to be held on Tuesday and Wednesday, February 19 and 20, 2019. This year’s meeting provides member presidents with an opportunity to discuss key policy issues facing TICUA member institutions such as the impact of the recent elections, reauthorization of HEA, free public universities, the completion agenda, student aid, and other important topics.
This year’s agenda features conversations with many newly elected Legislative leaders of the 111th Tennessee General Assembly. As well, key policy leaders have been invited to outline their vision for the future of higher education in Tennessee. Invitations have been extended to Governor-elect Bill Lee, US Senator Lamar Alexander, Lt. Governor Randy McNally, House Speaker Glen Casada, House and Senate Education Chairs as well as the House and Senate Finance Chairs.
The Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association (TICUA) engages Tennessee’s private colleges and universities to work collaboratively in areas of public policy, cost containment, and professional development to better serve the state and its citizens.
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