Reporter’s notebook

Busy months ahead for appropriators

The Senate on Thursday passed its budget agreement for the next two fiscal years (2020 and 2021), which will set top-line spending levels for defense and domestic programs and a two-year extension of the debt limit. The agreement provides a 4.5 percent overall increase in FY 20 for domestic programs above FY 19 funding levels.

Although the Senate now begins a five-week recess, Appropriations Committee Chair Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) is moving forward to prepare his FY 20 appropriations bills. He aims to begin marks-ups of the bills when Congress returns to Washington in the second week of September. But completing the process will be a challenge with the new fiscal year beginning on October 1.

Meanwhile, the House already has passed most of its appropriations bills, though it will have to revisit them given the budget agreement, which provides $15 billion less overall funding for domestic programs. While the budget agreement increases overall funding in FY 20 for domestic programs, it is less than the House included and will require reductions in proposed funding levels for many programs in the House Labor-HHS bill — which includes appropriations for higher education and workforce training programs — during conference negotiations with the Senate.

A growing Promise

Enrollment has increased again for the San Diego Promise, the San Diego Community College District’s free college program.

Approximately 3,100 San Diego Promise students are expected at San Diego City, Mesa and Miramar colleges when classes begin August 19. This is a 48 percent increase over the 2018-19 academic year, when about 2,100 enrolled. It also makes the San Diego Promise one of the largest free community college programs in California.

Another bonus: Most of the students remain in the area.

“A remarkable 98 percent of these graduates will stay in San Diego after completing their academic programs.” said Lynn Neault, SDCCD’s vice chancellor of student services.

San Diego’s program provides two years of free tuition and book grants to all first-time students who enroll full-time. It also offers counseling and hands-on support to help students develop and stick to a plan to meet their educational and career goals.

Helping vets become business owners

A Tampa-area community college is partnering with Syracuse University on a program to help military veterans become successful entrepreneurs.

Hillsborough Community College (HCC) — which serves more than 2,000 enrolled veterans — is teaming with Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) to develop and launch Startup Training Resources Inspiring Veteran Entrepreneurship, or STRIVE.

The three-phase program will help veterans identify, overcome and mitigate challenges for their new ventures. The first STRIVE cohort will begin this month. HCC’s program will serve as a pilot with future cohorts offered at other community colleges across the country.

The STRIVE program tests business viability through an eight-week residency that includes online instruction and once-a-week in-person meetings. Following the eight-week curriculum, participants have access to phase-two support and mentoring, co-working space at HCC and ongoing workshops. The final phase includes resources for participants as their businesses grow.

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