Governor Northam announces new higher education plan

Refinancing effort aims to save Virginia’s higher education Institutions money

~Josh Grimes, News Editor~

On the afternoon of Sept. 22, Governor Northam made a huge announcement towards higher education. According to the press release, the announcement is about a higher education refinancing plan that would save Virginia’s public colleges and universities more than $300 million dollars over the next two years. This has an effect on the campus of Christopher Newport because in the release we are expected to save $14.4 million dollars. 

When the announcement was made, the location wasn’t at the Patrick Henry Building in Richmond where Northam usually does his coronavirus briefings. Instead, it was announced at George Mason University in northern Virginia. 

The reason why the Commonwealth is able to make this important announcement is that, according to the release, Virginia successfully avoided cuts to higher education during the pandemic. It’s also because the commonwealth worked hard to maintain its valued AAA bond rating, which allowed the state to be eligible for these favorable interests. Another reason is due to low interest rates, which also according to the Press Release, institutions of higher education can use for capital projects.

In a statement from Governor Northam that was part of the release, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have tremendous impacts on higher education, including the fiscal health of our colleges and universities. Families all over the country are taking advantage of record low interest rates to refinance their home mortgages, and we want our public institutions to benefit as well. Refinancing will free up millions of dollars in savings allowing our colleges and universities to make critical investments, meet the needs of Virginia students, and continue offering a world-class education.

Three others also made statements in the release. Janet Howell, Senate Finance Committee Chairwoman wrote, “Our public higher education institutions are critical to Virginia’s success, and we know they are hurting right now. Allowing them to refinance some of their debt is an innovative way to save money when they need it most, and I look forward to supporting the legislative portion of this proposal next session.” 

On the House Appropriations side, Committee Chairman Luke Torian wrote, “As stewards of the Commonwealth’s finances, we are always seeking creative solutions to financial issues. Helping public colleges and universities restructure their debt obligations allows them to focus their resources on the pressing needs they face right now as a result of the pandemic.”

The last of three statements came from the Secretary of Finance of the Governor’s Cabinet. Aubrey Lane wrote, “Governor Northam is committed to supporting Virginia’s institutions of higher education. These savings will make a tremendous difference for our colleges and universities as they navigate these challenging times.”

For parts of this plan, Northam will need to work with the General Assembly to have additional flexibility for higher education refinancing during the upcoming session beginning this January. 

Other colleges and universities listed in the release include George Mason, James Madison, Longwood, Norfolk State, Old Dominion, Radford, Richmond Blanchard College of William & Mary, University of Mary Washington, University of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University, Virginia Community College System, Virginia Military Institute, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University and William & Mary. 

Information obtained from https://www.governor.virginia.gov/newsroom/all-releases/2020/september/headline-860518-en.html

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