Gov. McAuliffe hoping to expand access to higher education


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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Gov. Terry McAuliffe's upcoming budget proposal will include tens of millions of dollars as part of his higher education plan.

The governor announced Tuesday that his budget will include $50 million to increase the number of in-state students receiving degrees and roughly $48.2 million for in-state financial aid.

McAuliffe also proposed a $100,000 grant to start planning a regional center to investigate sexual violence on campus. The governor said he envisioned the center as a way to build on the work of his multi-disciplinary Task Force on Combating Sexual Violence.

"Educators, law enforcement all will be part of it," he said.

McAuliffe made the announcement at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College's campus in Henrico County, the Richmond Times-Dispatch (http://bit.ly/1m577pO) reported.

"Our biennial budget will reverse a troubling trend in recent years in which state support for our higher education system has failed to keep pace with costs, adding stress to our families who are already facing tough economic challenges," McAuliffe said.

The governor said his plan includes $24.6 million for work certification and credentialing programs at community colleges for in-demand industries.

"We need these certifications and licensures, just as we need college degrees, to maximize Virginia's economic development potential," McAuliffe said.

An additional $8.1 million would go toward an online degree completion initiative aimed at adults and nontraditional students.

McAuliffe will present his full budget plan Thursday. Regional public hearings will be held throughout the state next month.

The Republican-controlled legislature will take up the budget early next year.

House Appropriations Committee chairman S. Chris Jones, R-Suffolk, said in a statement Tuesday that he "would caution against putting too much stock" in McAuliffe's announcement.

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Information from: Richmond Times-Dispatch, http://www.timesdispatch.com

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