August 7, 2020
Due to the reduced legislative session and a dispute between the two houses regarding the quantity of bills to be heard this August, there was little movement for higher education in Sacramento this week. The Assembly Higher Education Committee has still not scheduled a hearing and the Senate Education Committee has no additional hearings scheduled before the end of session. However, a bill ACCCA is supporting, Assembly Bill (AB) 2884 (Berman, D-Menlo Park), to increase the allowable uses for Lottery funding, is scheduled to be heard by the Senate Governmental Organization Committee next week.
On the liability front, neither the higher education (AB 1759 [Salas, D-Bakersfield]) nor K–12 (AB 1384 [O’Donnell, D-Long Beach]) bill to address COVID-19 liabilities for educational institutions are likely to be heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee. Proponents have not given up, however, and are seeking other means to address this issue in legislation this year. This could take the form of State Budget clean up trailer bill language, which is yet to be released for K–14 education.
In Washington, D.C., negotiations on an additional COVID-19 spending package have not yet come to fruition, though internal deadlines to do so are today or tomorrow. For higher education, the Senate Republicans’ Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection and Schools Act contains $105 billion for an Education Stabilization Fund, which includes:
- $29.1 billion for a Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF)
- $5.2 billion for Governors’ Emergency Relief Funds, which can be used for emergency grants for educational institutions of all levels
The HEERF would be distributed as follows:
- $24.7 billion for institutions using a formula based 90% on an institution’s relative share of full-time equivalent Pell grant recipients and 10% on non-Pell full-time equivalent students
- $2.9 billion for additional awards to Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority Serving Institutions
- $1.5 billion for institutions most in need of assistance
Community college advocates at the federal level, led by the Association of Community College Trustees, are seeking substantial federal financial support of at least $46.6 billion for colleges and students in a fair and equitable manner using a headcount formula; and securing funds for community colleges to help with workforce development.
Today’s jobs report, which shows the American economy gained1.8 million jobs last month, demonstrates that the employment recovery of June, which added 4.8 million jobs, has not been sustained while businesses nationwide are closing for a second time. This may serve to put additional pressure on federal negotiators. Stay tuned.