Tuesday, February 22, 2005
College bill lands on Warner's desk
The latest from our Blue Ridge Caucus politics blog
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From The Roanoke Times
The House of Delegates on Monday passed a Senate version (SB 1327) of complex legislation that would grant colleges greater control over certain administrative and financial functions, such as setting tuition rates. An identical House version (HB 2866) already has cleared both houses. But some House members used Monday's vote to voice lingering concerns about how universities might handle newly gained bureaucratic freedoms. Del. Leo Wardrup, R-Virginia Beach, called the measure "a giant leap of faith" shortly before the House voted 76-22 to pass the bill.
The revamped legislation gives all universities the opportunity to seek varying degrees of freedom from state government oversight. But the institutions will be required to develop six-year plans that spell out tuition and fee rates and certain performance benchmarks.
Del. Jim Shuler, D-Blacksburg, said he expects Warner to make changes to the legislation between now and April. Warner has said any structural changes at the universities must keep the schools affordable and accessible for Virginia students.
Wardrup said he hopes Warner attaches a re-enactment clause to the bill, which would prevent it from taking effect unless lawmakers pass it again next year.
Shuler, whose district includes Virginia Tech, voted for the bill. But he also raised some concerns about the impact the bureaucratic changes could have on university employees. He also noted that both bills sailed through the House without much discussion by the full chamber.
"This bill did go through the body very rapidly with very little debate," Shuler said.