Modified Work Ready scholarships and performance funding criteria bill passes House and Senate

UPDATE: The House and Senate have both passed a bill which contains language to allow students attending a state university to receive an associates degree to get free tuition, criteria for performance-based funding for the state’s post-secondary institutions and perimeters for a $100 million bond pool for workforce development.

In a meeting of the Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee Friday afternoon, the Senate announced details of compromises on performance-based funding criteria and Work Ready scholarship programs that came from agreements made in the budget conference committee.

An amended version of House Bill 626 was voted out of the Senate and House Friday to make changes to education aspects of the budget.

In the committee meeting, Senate President Pro Tem David Givens explained that the Work Ready scholarship program introduced by House Democrats remains in the budget with some changes.

Changes to the initiative include requirement of a 2.5 GPA in order to qualify for the scholarship, payment of four semesters of school rather than the six originally proposed, included dual credits, and expanded the program to public and private universities, as well as KCTCS, which was in the original language.

The new language also states that those starting school in 2020 will be required to have at least three dual credits to qualify with that number going up in the following two years until reaching six dual credits in 2023.

As for the funding, the budget includes a cap of $25 million for the scholarship program in the two year budget, a compromise from the $13 million in the first year and $20 million in the second year the House originally proposed.

In terms of performance-based funding, Givens stated the two sides could not come to an agreement on language setting up criteria for performance-based funding during their budget conference committee and will instead set up a task force to come up with specifics for such a model that will report no later than December 1, 2016.

The budget does, however, lay out the funding levels for performance-based funding.

Givens explained that 5% of the allocation for each institution, excluding Kentucky State University, will be set aside in the second year of the biennium for performance based funding which will then rise to 15 % in the next year and the 25 % in the next where it will remain moving forward.

The amended version of House Bill 626 also includes language dealing with the $100 million bond pool for workforce development and sets up structure on how that money is used, creates a board, lays out a process for applications and more.

House Bill 626 passed the Senate 31-7 and passed the House 90-9 and now heads to the governor.

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Jacqueline Pitts
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