NCSL Blue Ribbon Commission on Higher Education
Maintaining Higher Education Access and Affordability in Tight Fiscal Times
A Two-Year Effort of the National Conference of State Legislatures
NCSL is currently engaged in a two-year effort to elevate the awareness among state legislators of their roles in the higher education fiscal crisis and their responsibilities in providing an accessible and affordable public higher education; and to equip them with skills, information and strategies to improve current conditions.
State legislators play central roles in state higher education policy. State budget and fiscal policy are important levers impacting affordability and access. Difficult state economic conditions have put pressure on state legislators to cut back state support to higher education and to reexamine the state role in higher education. These decisions have had significant consequences on higher education access and affordability.
- To enhance the dialogue among state legislators on the "big picture" issues regarding appropriations, tuition, and financial aid and the impact of legislative decisions on affordability and access.
- To identify, debate and disseminate new models of state budgets and state higher education funding that link appropriations, tuition and financial aid in the four-year and two-year sectors and can favorably impact college access and affordability, especially for low income students.
- To provide on-going training and professional development opportunities for new and veteran legislators and legislative leaders on higher education issues and state strategies.
- To provide legislators the necessary training, background and skills to build stronger relationships with statewide higher education policymakers and to become engaged participants and leaders in the long-term planning process.
This project is being funded by a generous grant from the Lumina Foundation for Education.
NCSL has recruited a 12-member Blue Ribbon Legislative Commission comprised of legislative leaders and chairs of appropriations and education committees to guide the work of the project. Members are:
- New Mexico Senator Ben Altimarano
- Virginia Senator John H. Chichester
- Utah Senator Lyle Hillyard
- Washington Representative Phyllis Gutierrez Kenney
- New York Senator Ken Lavalle
- Indiana Senator Teresa Lubbers
- Florida Senator Evelyn Lynn
- Connecticut Representative Denise Merrill (Co-Chair)
- Texas Representative Geanie W. Morrison (Co-Chair)
- Massachusetts Senator Robert O'Leary
- West Virginia Senator Robert Plymale
- New Jersey Assemblyman Craig Stanley
The Commission has met since Spring of 2005 to prioritize its work, sharpen its focus, identify activities and products. In 2006 a set of issue briefs for legislators will focus on important issues facing higher education; and a series of meetings and discussions will be held with legislators around the country.
For more information contact Julie Davis Bell, Education Program Director