Public Comments for 01/20/2021 Education - Post-Secondary and Higher Ed Subcommittee
HB1772 - Higher educational institutions, public; per student enrollment-based funding, noncredit workforce.
No Comments Available
HB1870 - Victims of human trafficking; eligibility for in-state tuition.
Last Name: Connole Organization: James Madison University Student Government Association Locality: Harrisonburg, Virginia

The Student Government Association at James Madison University supports this legislation as an effort to help ease the pain victims of human trafficking live with. Obtaining a degree at a higher education institution is often difficult and expensive, while it is also increasingly becoming an expected requirement for even low-wage employment. This cost of attendance is exponentially higher at most institutions for out-of-state students. As victims of human trafficking often don’t have the ability to have a single, stable home state, it is unfair to expect them to be able to meet in-state tuition requirements. Our organization would like to support this bill to make higher education more attainable and affordable in hopes that it will open doors for those who have already had much taken from them. The privacy of these future-students is a requirement for our support and we request that the privacy provisions in place in this bill are not altered. We also implore the committee to expand past these efforts with legislation such as H.B. 1975 to provide further tuition and counseling waivers to victims of sex crimes.

Last Name: Ameling Organization: Latisha's House Foundation Locality: Williamsburg

I am the Executive Director of Latisha's House and run a safe house in James City County for female victims of sex trafficking. As part of our program, we pay for education, college and trade school for our residents. By definition, victims of sex trafficking come from many places and don't have a place to call home. They might have started out in New York, come down 95 through Maryland and gotten arrested in Virginia. We help our residents get their GED's and then we raise funds to pay for college. Paying out of state tuition has been a real challenge. We totally support allowing victims of trafficking to pay instate tuition.

HB1930 - Higher educational institutions, public; admissions applications criminal history questions.
Last Name: Higley Locality: Midlothian

I want you to know that I think citizens with criminal records are very likely some of the greatest beneficiaries of additional education as they struggle to return to being most productive in society, and the last sentence of the bill should be stricken or an explicit definition of the phrase "threat to the institution's community" must be included. Sincerely, Hal Higley

Last Name: Jesse Organization: Safer Virginia Locality: Richmond

I am president of Safer Virginia, a criminal reform advocacy group. I had intended to speak on HB1930 and HB1975, but was stymied by this new remote participation process. I was unable to register to speak--I did not realize you had to register beforehand--therefore, I leave my comments and concerns here in hopes that they will be considered as these bills progress. HB1930: A criminal conviction should not be a societal death sentence, but too often organizations and employers shy away from admitting or hiring those with convictions out of fear of public vilification. Scholastic institutions are no different. But people with criminal convictions are very likely some of the greatest beneficiaries of additional education as they struggle to return to being productive in society. For that reason, we strongly support the aims of this bill, but highlight two points of concern we feel ought to be addressed. First, there's no definition for what a "threat to the institution's community" entails. Arguably any criminal conviction could be a "threat to the institution's community." This gives no ease of mind to an applicant with conviction because it is impossible for him or her to determine whether or not their admission will be rescinded. This problem also exacerbates the underlying issue because, by rejecting a person after they have been admitted, that person is now no longer able to pursue other academic opportunities from other institutions that they forewent. As a consequence, there's nothing stopping an institution from rescinding an acceptance to literally every student that it would have denied prior to this bill. How, then, does this bill actually address the issue if it can be essentially circumvented? Simply put, subsection (c) undoes any teeth this bill might have. We ask that the last sentence of subsection (c) be stricken ("Any public institution of higher education may withdraw an offer of admission to any individual whom the institution subsequently determines to have a criminal history that poses a threat to the institution's community") or that "threat to the institution's community" be more precisely defined. HB1975: While we support the aims of this bill and feel compassions for those who have survived sexual assault, we have a grave concern about potential unintended consequences HB1975 may promote. By providing free tuition to those who are the victim of past sexual assault, it incentivizes unscrupulous individuals looking for a "free ride" to fabricate allegations. There is now a substantial monetary gain for victimhood--in some cases hundreds of thousands of dollars--that may prove enticing. While rare, false allegations already exist; it is worrisome how some may accuse a parent, a friend, a teacher, or literally innocent person of egregious conduct in order to benefit themselves. We urge the General Assembly to table this bill without a proper plan on how to address this problem. Thank you Zachary Jesse President, Safer Virginia 804-512-1239

Last Name: Walker Locality: Lynchburg, Virginia

Discrimination in higher education admissions should not be permitted either based on criminal history or on an undefined term, "threat to the institution's community". Please remember, citizens with criminal records are very likely some of the greatest beneficiaries of additional education as they struggle to return to being most productive in society. This would only place additional barriers to those who are already down and out. If the bill does go forward, then at a minimum the last sentence of the bill should be stricken or an explicit definition of the phrase "threat to the institution's community" must be included. This phrase is too vague and open to abuse. In addition, it may unnecessarily burden our education institutions with legal costs associated with defending their interpretation of this language.

Last Name: Jesse Organization: Safer Virginia Locality: Richmond

The bill contains no definition of "threat", leaving open the likelihood of discriminatory admissions decisions. Citizens with criminal records are very likely some of the greatest beneficiaries of additional education as they struggle to return to being most productive in society. Please strike the last sentence of the bill or include an explicit definition of the phrase "threat to the institution's community". Discrimination in higher education admissions should not be permitted either based on criminal history or on an undefined term such as "threat to the institution's community". Safer Virginia PO Box 4289 Richmond, VA 23220-8289 (804) 525-9186

Last Name: WELCH Locality: Roanoke

Citizens with criminal records are very likely some of the greatest beneficiaries of additional education as they struggle to return to being most productive in society. The last sentence in lines 24-26 of the bill should be stricken. If not, an explicit definition of the phrase "threat to the institution's community" must be included as well as clarification of who makes that determination and by what criteria. Otherwise, prospective students are subject to discriminatory, irrational and emotional decisions that are without research-based merit.

HB1975 - Higher educational institutions, public; tuition and mandatory fee waivers, survivors of sex crimes.
Last Name: Walker Locality: Lynchburg

While the intention of this bill is laudatory, the prospect of a free college education might be enough of an enticement to motivate some to make false accusations. While we might take some comfort in that law enforcement and the courts might ferret out false accusations, it must be recognized that the mere accusation of a sex crime is enough to destroy lives and ruin reputations. Might there be a better way to assist victims? Maybe funding for counseling or mental health services. Something that would still assist victims without attracting scammers.

Last Name: Marx Locality: Chesterfield

Wow. Falsely accuse someone of a sex offense against your child, get them convicted; free college and counseling! I recognize the intent of this bill, it is often very hard for victims to get their lives going, and they deserve help, but this bill would certainly be abused.

Last Name: Welch Locality: Roanoke

The bill is discriminatory. It favors a victim who wants to attend college, disregarding those who find that choice neither wise financially nor a benefit in their career field. The bill incorrectly exacts restitution from universities and taxpayers, neither of whom committed the offense.

Last Name: McKenna Organization: Virginia Coalition Against Human Trafficking Locality: Chesapeake

My name is Patrick McKenna and I am an Attorney and the President of the Virginia Coalition Against Human Trafficking (VCAHT), an alliance of service providers, attorneys, survivor-advocates, and community members on a mission to remove barriers preventing survivors from achieving a full and healthy life through public awareness campaigns, policy reform and enacting survivor-centered human trafficking legislation. The member organizations represented within VCAHT are working with 100's of survivors throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. First VCAHT wishes to thank the members of the Subcommittee for this opportunity to present its position on House Bill HB1975 and it also wishes to thank Del. Rush for his concern for those victimized by the criminal activity outlined in the bill and his efforts to address these abuses and provide critical tools for the healing journey of those who have been victimized by these crimes through the mechanisms provided in the proposed legislation. The bill does this in a two fold manner. First, it provides for free counseling to help survivors address the affects of the severe trauma that they have experienced, which in the case of a sex trafficking survivors would include hundreds of incidents of rape and sexual abuse leading to multiple mental health issues such as complex PTSD, severe anxiety, depression and other maladies. Without this counseling, successfully navigating the rigors of academic challenges would make success in these academic and vocational pursuits extremely challenging at best and prone to failure at worst. With the academic performance called for to continue to maintain eligibility under the proposed legislation, it is all the more important that such counseling be made available to the survivor in order to help insure the survivor's success in completing their program. Second, but also very important, is that it provides financial help to those who have been victimized through the waiving of tuition and mandatory fees thereby allowing the survivors to focus on education rather than the stressors of paying for it and thereby helping to minimize impact on previous traumatic experiences and promoting their success in completing the education so necessary to their continued healing and future goals. Both provisions signal to the survivor that we believe in them and wish to do what we can to help and support them in their healing process and obtain success in the future. VCAHT would like to see the number of survivors who might be helped by this legislation expanded to include those who are up to age 21 to account for those being victimized who may have aged out of foster care and are and were still extremely vulnerable to being abused through sex trafficking and the other abuses listed. However, because the bill will help some of those survivors who have been victimized, VCAHT strongly supports this legislation and is asking the Committee to vote in favor of passing the bill to the full Committee for consideration. Thank you for your time and consideration of VCAHT's position.

Last Name: Jesse Organization: Safer Virginia Locality: Richmond

I am president of Safer Virginia, a criminal reform advocacy group. I had intended to speak on HB1930 and HB1975, but was stymied by this new remote participation process. I was unable to register to speak--I did not realize you had to register beforehand--therefore, I leave my comments and concerns here in hopes that they will be considered as these bills progress. HB1930: A criminal conviction should not be a societal death sentence, but too often organizations and employers shy away from admitting or hiring those with convictions out of fear of public vilification. Scholastic institutions are no different. But people with criminal convictions are very likely some of the greatest beneficiaries of additional education as they struggle to return to being productive in society. For that reason, we strongly support the aims of this bill, but highlight two points of concern we feel ought to be addressed. First, there's no definition for what a "threat to the institution's community" entails. Arguably any criminal conviction could be a "threat to the institution's community." This gives no ease of mind to an applicant with conviction because it is impossible for him or her to determine whether or not their admission will be rescinded. This problem also exacerbates the underlying issue because, by rejecting a person after they have been admitted, that person is now no longer able to pursue other academic opportunities from other institutions that they forewent. As a consequence, there's nothing stopping an institution from rescinding an acceptance to literally every student that it would have denied prior to this bill. How, then, does this bill actually address the issue if it can be essentially circumvented? Simply put, subsection (c) undoes any teeth this bill might have. We ask that the last sentence of subsection (c) be stricken ("Any public institution of higher education may withdraw an offer of admission to any individual whom the institution subsequently determines to have a criminal history that poses a threat to the institution's community") or that "threat to the institution's community" be more precisely defined. HB1975: While we support the aims of this bill and feel compassions for those who have survived sexual assault, we have a grave concern about potential unintended consequences HB1975 may promote. By providing free tuition to those who are the victim of past sexual assault, it incentivizes unscrupulous individuals looking for a "free ride" to fabricate allegations. There is now a substantial monetary gain for victimhood--in some cases hundreds of thousands of dollars--that may prove enticing. While rare, false allegations already exist; it is worrisome how some may accuse a parent, a friend, a teacher, or literally innocent person of egregious conduct in order to benefit themselves. We urge the General Assembly to table this bill without a proper plan on how to address this problem. Thank you Zachary Jesse President, Safer Virginia 804-512-1239

Last Name: Comer Organization: Student Government Association at James Madison University Locality: Harrisonburg

On behalf of the Student Government Association at James Madison University, I Sara Comer would like to personally express why we believe this legislation is so important. My freshman year of college I was sexually assaulted by a dear friend of mine. I ran all the way home about a mile to get myself safe. Passing many police officers no one stopped to ask me if I was ok. As days passed I debated with myself on if I should file for a Title IX case, but from my experience with others I knew I would not have the ability to win. I cut my hair as I had huge gaps missing from my attacker pulling me back, I had bruises that stayed for months as a constant reminder of what had happened to me. I battled with my self worth, with my will to live, and also with my social anxiety. All things I still battle with today. I stayed silent out of fear that I would be blamed for my assault. I also was influenced by the high cost of court fees and hiring a lawyer. It would have drained any money I had for school and personal bills. This legislation is a great step to support survivors that are looking to continue with their lives and move toward successes in life such as attending university. As someone who struggled with mental health while also living with the fear of not having enough money to pay personal bills and tuition at the same time, this bill would help women and men who would be eligible for no cost counseling and tuition waivers. That is a huge weight that could be off so many peoples shoulders and could allow those to battle through their trauma and be the best students they can be. We should always help and protect those whom are victims of not only sexual assault crimes but also sex trafficking crimes. I hope that with my personal statement you will address this issue and see the major purpose of the benefits of this bill and how many lives that will be changed. I am going to shout from the rooftops until this piece of legislation is obtained. Please allow those who struggle financially to have the benefits of justice and of being able to move on with their lives and better themselves with an education. While I support this bill for all survivors under 18, I also implore you to consider a raise in the age requirement as many survivors of sexual violence, like myself, are students on college campuses and face these same burdens at an older age. Take this legislation a step further and provide financial relief to those of an older age carrying massive burdens many can’t even imagine. We also request that the pronouns are made more inclusive to include any gender and not just “he.”

HB1986 - George Mason University; management agreement with the Commonwealth.
Last Name: Pedowitz Organization: Arlington Chamber of Commerce Locality: Arlington

The Arlington Chamber of Commerce supports HB 1986, the management agreement between the Commonwealth and George Mason University granting the university Tier 3 status. George Mason has met all of the statutory requirements for approval as a Tier 3 institution, following its five-year pilot program in Tier 2.5. George Mason is an engaged contributor to our local community in Arlington and to our region and the Commonwealth as a whole, and we expect that it will make good use of this status to serve its educational mission. We thus encourage you to recommend reporting the bill.

Last Name: Snare Organization: Prince William Chamber of Commerce Locality: Prince William County, Manassas & Manassas Park

The Prince William Chamber of Commerce and its 1200+ members strongly support this legislation. George Mason University has met the requirements set forth by the Commonwealth in order to achieve Tier 3 Status and we strongly encourage all members to support this bill.

HB2123 - Students; eligibility for in-state tuition.
Last Name: Griffin Organization: Office of the Attorney General Locality: Richmond

The Attorney General supports this bill. I will be available to respond to any questions of a legal nature from the subcommittee. M. Elizabeth Griffin Senior Assistant Attorney General - Education Section megriffin@vcu.edu 804-335-8405

Last Name: Monica Sarmiento Organization: Virginia Coalition for Immigrant Rights Locality: Alexandria, VA

The Virginia Coalition for Immigrant Rights and it's 39 member organization fully endorse HB2123. Granting scholarship to undocumented students is the best way to provide a bright future for deserving students, and continue the pathway of retaining the innovation and talent in Virginia. We urge all members to support this HB2123.

Last Name: Jared Calfee Organization: Virginia21 Action Locality: Henrico

We strongly support this legislation and we thank the patron for carrying it. To put it simply, we believe that people who are living, working, and seeking an education in Virginia are Virginians, regardless of their immigration status. This body saw fit to rightly grant these students in-state tuition eligibility last year, and if the law considers them in-state students then they should be eligible for Virginia's financial aid programs as well. Thank you.

Last Name: Nicholls Locality: Chesapeake

Why should illegal immigrants get anything before our own minorities? They have needs, we should be looking at them first. Next, I've been privileged to have many legal immigrants who studied, paid, and worked very very hard to be an asset to this country. Out of respect for what they've done to us, they would come first before those who violate the law.

Last Name: Figueredo Organization: Edu-Futuro Locality: Falls Church

Edu-Futuro supports HB 2123 January 26, 2021 Contact: Jorge E. Figueredo, MPP, Executive Director jorge@edu-futuro.org • 703-472-3838 • Good afternoon, Chair and members of the Appropriations - Higher Education Subcommittee, my name is Jorge Figueredo, Executive Director of Edu-Futuro a nonprofit organization that for the past 23 years has delivered after-school programs from pre-k to 12th grade and a two-generation approach to assist low income, and immigrant families to break the cycle of poverty in one generation. We have education, leadership, case management, workforce development, and parent engagement after-school programs in Fairfax and Arlington counties, the City of Alexandria, and the City of Roanoke from pre-K to post-secondary, to assist low income, immigrant, and minority students to stay in school, graduate on time, go to college, and find their first professional jobs. • HB 2123, if approved by the legislators, will extend the same educational benefits to all Virginia students who are currently eligible for in-state tuition, including access to state financial aid programs and resources. This proposal builds upon HB 1547/SB935 that passed in the 2020 legislative session. • Education enables the integration of immigrants into society. JLARC found that immigrants need additional information on how to operate within the “American system.” Education provides the means to remedy this. Thus, access to state financial aid programs and resources to all Virginia students who are currently eligible for in-state tuition should be granted. • Educating young people benefits Virginia. College opportunities reduce dropout rates and quickly pays for itself. It is a benefit to society. Providing access to state financial aid programs to all high school students who qualify for in-state tuition allows them to stay focused on getting better grades during their college years. Based on our experience, attaining a college degree with the lowest possible amount of debt significantly impacts the stability of low-income families. • HB 2123 is an investment in Virginia’s future. A report by VCU found that more than 27,000 job vacancies in Virginia require at least an Associate’s degree (including 18,000 requiring a Bachelor’s degree). Odds of educational & economic success improve for the American-born citizen offspring of immigrants when parents are more highly educated. Equity in financial aid is about strengthening our workforce. It’s not about immigration status. It’s about enabling all of Virginia’s in-state tuition eligible students to access state financial aid programs and resources. Thank you, Jorge E. Figueredo, MPP Executive Director Edu-Futuro www.edu-futuro.org

Last Name: Bradford Organization: Governor's Office Locality: Richmond

The Administration supports this legislation. I am available to be online for any questions as necessary.

Last Name: Silvera Organization: CASA Virginia Locality: Woodbridge

Dear subcommittee members and chair, My name is Caroline Silvera, and I’m with CASA Virginia. On behalf of CASA, a community-based organization that fights for equity and justice, our 10,000 members strongly support the passing of HB 2123. With some of the best public universities and school systems in the country, Virginia provides a quality education for its students. However, there are still steps we need to take to ensure that all Virginians, regardless of their citizenship status, receive every educational opportunity they need to succeed. Out of 494,000 undocumented Virginians, there is a large number of students who will not be eligible for in-state tuition under the current law. By 2060, Latinos will comprise 30% of the school-aged population in the United States. Therefore, the success of Latino immigrants is critical to the economic and social future of Virginia and this country. Although citizenship status is no longer a barrier for Virginians seeking in-state tuition, they are still not eligible for most forms of financial aid. With no financial aid, many non-citizens are deterred from pursuing higher education. As a resident of Prince William County where the largest student group is Hispanic, I have heard countless stories of those deterred by higher education costs due to their citizenship status. My former classmate worked hard for four years, taking Dual Enrollment classes, just to give up her spot at a state university because her citizenship status made her ineligible for financial aid. The more education someone obtains, the greater their salary becomes. Removing barriers to higher education and allowing more Virginians to pursue it thus contributes to the economy, as payroll tax revenue will become greater. At CASA, we believe this bill is necessary in providing educational equity to all and ensuring a strong future economy. HB 2123 will make our workforce more skilled, and our education system stronger. Supporting this bill is supporting our economy and all students of Virginia. Thank you.

Last Name: Arias Organization: Dream Project Locality: Alexandria

Thank you for continuing the work of helping dreamers afford a college education and stay here in Virginia. The impact of passage of this bill will help so many Virginian's plan to stay in Virginia colleges and universities. We need their talent here.

Last Name: Riddle Organization: Virginia Education Association Locality: Richmond City

The Virginia Education Association (VEA) supports HB 2123. We ask the committee to favorably report HB 2123. Thank you.

Last Name: Hernandez Estrada Organization: WMFIRE Locality: Stafford

My name is Ashley Hernandez Estrada, a senior at the College of WIlliam & Mary representing WMFIRE, a student advocacy organization that supports all students, regardless of immigration status. Every day when speaking to students, the main concern we hear about is students’ ability to receive financial aid. House Bill 2123, in making financial aid accessible to all students eligible for in state tuition, would be an enormous step in opening the Commonwealth to countless more brilliant minds and alleviating a tremendous amount of stress on students that call Virginia home. Please vote yes on moving Bill 2123 forward.

Last Name: Sepulveda Locality: Newport News

Dear members of the Virginia General Assembly, I write to you today regarding VA HB 2123 to support the bill. I am currently a student at the College of William and Mary. I have always been told that hard work and persistence are key to attaining higher education. However, for many students this is not the case. Undocumented students may work as hard as they can but may never have the opportunity to pursue higher education because they are financially unable to. Therefore, it is crucial for all students to have access to Virginia educational benefits. The ability to achieve higher education can provide these students with better futures and end the racial/ethnic divide in higher education. If these students attend college, it can bring communities above the poverty line if they have access to the same financial assistance that other Virginian students receive. When these students graduate from college, they will not only have a better future, but will strengthen our workforce and economy. For these reasons, I urge you to approve this proposal. Thank you, Alayna Sepulveda

Last Name: Connole Organization: James Madison University Student Government Association Locality: Harrisonburg, Virginia

The Student Government Association at James Madison University was proud to advocate against the former requirement of having documented citizenship status to be eligible for in-state tuition in the Commonwealth. We did so because DACA students and all our peers that are immigrants to the United States are deserving of fair access to higher education institutions at a more affordable price. We should always be fighting to make higher education more affordable and while this is an ongoing effort, this legislation would afford students, who are currently being slighted, educational benefits that other in-state students already receive. This legislation needs to be passed to open doors to proper financial aid opportunities and allow an easier pathway to greater job opportunities in the future. Supporting this bill is supporting equitable access to education.

Last Name: Silvera Organization: CASA Virginia Locality: Prince William County

Dear subcommittee members and chair, My name is Caroline Silvera, and I’m with CASA Virginia. On behalf of CASA, a community-based organization that fights for equity and justice, our 10,000 members strongly support the passing of HB 2123. With some of the best public universities and school systems in the country, Virginia provides a quality education for its students. However, there are still steps we need to take to ensure that all Virginians, regardless of their citizenship status, receive every educational opportunity they need to succeed. Out of 494,000 undocumented Virginians, there is a large number of students who will not be eligible for in-state tuition under the current law. By 2060, Latinos will comprise 30% of the school-aged population in the United States. Therefore, the success of Latino immigrants is critical to the economic and social future of Virginia and this country. Although citizenship status is no longer a barrier for Virginians seeking in-state tuition, they are still not eligible for most forms of financial aid. With no financial aid, many non-citizens are deterred from pursuing higher education. As a resident of Prince William County where the largest student group is Hispanic, I have heard countless stories of those deterred by higher education costs due to their citizenship status. My former classmate worked hard for four years, taking Dual Enrollment classes, just to give up her spot at a state university because her citizenship status made her ineligible for financial aid. The more education someone obtains, the greater their salary becomes. Removing barriers to higher education and allowing more Virginians to pursue it thus contributes to the economy, as payroll tax revenue will become greater. At CASA, we believe this bill is necessary in providing educational equity to all and ensuring a strong future economy. HB 2123 will make our workforce more skilled, and our education system stronger. Supporting this bill is supporting our economy and all students of Virginia. Thank you.

HB2204 - Get Skilled, Get a Job, Give Back (G3) Fund and Program; established.
Last Name: Allwine Organization: Fredericksburg Regional Chamber of Commerce Locality: Fredericksburg

The Fredericksburg Regional Chamber of Commerce supports this legislation because it meets a critical need in our Commonwealth for connecting student in need with funds and drives them to in-demand careers. This bill provides financial assistance to certain low-income and middle-income Virginia students who are enrolled in an educational program at an associate-degree-granting public institution of higher education that leads to an occupation in a certain high-demand field. This is a wonderful step in creating the educated and skilled workforce that will help lead to a strong economy in the future.

Last Name: Snare Organization: Prince William Chamber of Commerce Locality: Prince William, Manassas and Manassas Park

The Prince William Chamber of Commerce supports this legislation because it provides financial assistance to certain low-income and middle-income Virginia students who are enrolled in an educational program at an associate-degree-granting public institution of higher education that leads to an occupation in a certain high-demand field. This is a wonderful step in creating the educated and skilled workforce that will help lead to a strong economy in the future.

Last Name: Connole Organization: James Madison University Student Government Association Locality: Harrisonburg, VA

The Student Government Association at James Madison University believes that this legislation is a great step in making education more attainable and economical. The program will boost the Commonwealth’s workforce while boosting community colleges that are much deserving of this investment. Please support this legislation to help reform and incentivize education in Virginia to be more equitable, more effective in creating jobs in high-need fields, and more affordable at the same time.

Last Name: Durkin Organization: Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce Locality: Roanoke

The Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce supports HB 2204. The G3 program will increase opportunities for Virginians to fill jobs in high-demand fields, which is needed now more than ever. Please vote "yes" on HB 2204.

Last Name: Pedowitz Organization: Arlington Chamber of Commerce Locality: Arlington

The Arlington Chamber of Commerce supports HB 2204 and the establishment of the G3 program. Advancing workforce development policy initiatives will position Virginia as a global leader in workforce readiness, and so we support a forward-looking approach where innovation and creativity foster better outcomes that benefit our community. The Chamber supports funding for career and technical education opportunities at all educational levels and for all stages of life. The G3 program is an important tool for helping Virginians pursue an education in the Commonwealth’s community college system. We thus ask you to recommend reporting the bill.

Last Name: Aguilar Organization: CASA Locality: Woodbridge

Good afternoon, First and foremost, it is great to say thank you for the ability to testify safely and remotely, we appreciate your leadership taking this pandemic seriously. I’m Luis Aguilar, CASA’s Virginia Director. CASA is a community based organization fighting for justice & equity. I am here today to speak in support of the “Get Skilled, Get a Job, Give Back” or G3 program. Like many of you, I am optimistic about our pandemic recovery this year. However, I know that when this is over, we will need to rebuild our workforce to help us in our recovery. This is why this program must be restored. This is why we need to invest in working-class Virginians. The G3 program will assist our working-class Virginians to obtain career training skills at our community colleges. It will offer additional financial assistance to develop a trained workforce needed in high-demand occupations such as healthcare, public safety, early childhood education, technology, and more. The pandemic taught us that essential workers are what keeps our Commonwealth running and we should proudly support initiatives that support the training of our people to become essential in our economy. We believe our 10,000 CASA members and the broader immigrant community will benefit from extraordinary initiatives such as this one. Thank you and have an excellent day,

End of Comments