AN ACT RELATING TO HIGHER EDUCATION
It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:
Sec. 1. COMMITTEE ON POSTSECONDARY EDUCATION
(a) The governor, the president pro tempore of the senate and the speaker of the house of representatives shall jointly appoint 12 people, including representatives from both the business and education communities, to a committee on postsecondary education. Members shall serve without compensation, and the legislative council and the joint fiscal office shall provide staff services.
(b) The committee shall develop a plan which will ensure that Vermonters have the opportunity to receive high quality postsecondary education and are encouraged to live, work, and raise families in Vermont upon completion of postsecondary training. The plan shall seek to:
(1) Integrate Vermont’s secondary and postsecondary workforce training programs with Vermont’s university and college system as well as secondary and postsecondary programs outside Vermont.
(2) Ensure that postsecondary education is affordable for all Vermonters through use of options such as loan repayments, loan forgiveness, tax credits, leveraging federal resources, and scholarships.
(3) Use strategic investments to ensure the financial vitality of the Vermont state college system.
(4) Address the potential for strategic investments in the University of Vermont to stimulate specific economic sectors which are particularly appropriate for or unique to Vermont such as environmental technology.
(c) The plan shall include a funding level for implementation, shall identify a sustainable funding source, and shall include a system for overseeing use of the funds.
(d) On or before January 15, 2007, the committee shall present the plan to the general assembly.
Sec. 2. 16 V.S.A. § 2887 is added to read:
§ 2887. VERMONT POSTSECONDARY EDUCATION FUND
(a) A Vermont postsecondary education fund is established in the office of the state treasurer to be comprised of appropriations made by the general assembly and grants, donations, or contributions from any other sources. The fund shall be administered pursuant to subchapter 5 of chapter 7 of Title 32, except that interest earned on the fund and any remaining balance shall be retained in the fund.
(b) Annually, the general assembly shall appropriate moneys in the postsecondary education fund to support integration of Vermont’s secondary and postsecondary workforce training system with Vermont’s university and college system, to enable Vermonters to attend postsecondary education at an affordable cost to them, to ensure the financial viability of the Vermont state college system, and for strategic investments in the University of Vermont to stimulate specific economic sectors which are particularly appropriate for or unique to Vermont.
Sec. 3. APPROPRIATION
The amount of $5,000,000.00 is appropriated from the fiscal year 2006 general fund surplus into the postsecondary education fund. However, no moneys shall be withdrawn from the fund until a sustainable funding source is identified pursuant to Sec. 1 of this act and has been put in place by the general assembly.
The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street