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End of the 2024 Legislative Session

Recap by Executive Director, Emily Shields

The 2024 session ended in the early morning hours of April 20, 2024. We plan to release our complete post-session report early in June after all bills have been signed. For now, below is a short recap of some highlights of community college outcomes for this legislative session.

Success on Priorities

Invest in community college student success

In addition to our $10 million increase in State General Aid request, we also sought to change code related to the distribution formula. We were able to successfully make a very significant change in how that will work going forward. Specific formula code language was removed and replaced with language that outlines a process by which the presidents will approve a distribution formula each year by October 31 for the following legislative appropriations cycle.

Address the state's workforce needs and support businesses

One of our top priority policy bills was to exempt college and career transition positions from the shared operational funding cap for school districts. This will help rural areas particularly access funding to support this very successful work.

Additionally, we sought changes to improve and sustain the Last Dollar Scholarship program. Legislation passed that makes permanent the $20,000 student aid index cap implemented last year. It also guarantees funding to students for two years or until they complete their program. This are important changes to ensure the funds can be used to serve the most students. We were able to prevent some changes that would have narrowed program focus and added complexity to student eligibility.

Serve local communities

This priority area typically means changing or stopping legislation that would infringe upon the ability of local boards of trustees to guide decision-making at the colleges. This year there were several proposals in this category that did not move forward or where decision-making authority remained with colleges. Our end of session report will provide more detail.

State General Aid and Other Funding

This year, we made a larger ask than usual at $10 million in new State General Aid. This was tied into the funding formula change and the need for additional resources to shore up colleges behind the average. The group previously made the determination to split the new funds in half with half going to all according to the existing formula and half going to the six colleges that were behind the average. Unfortunately, the appropriations increase was not what we were hoping for. It was $7 million or about 3.2%. This was still a higher percentage increase than other parts of the education budget and while we are grateful for that consideration, this will mean it takes longer to create equity and there will be additional strain on college budgets. 

Other Impacts

A few other notes on outcomes (we will include more details in our legislative summary report):

  • The governor’s reorganization clean-up bill had proposed removing community colleges from some code language on adult education and literacy programs. We were able to change that so our role is preserved.

  • The workforce bill that included Last Dollar also created a new definition of work-based learning and a new workforce opportunity fund.

  • Other community college funding items were held at status quo.

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