Forty-one states are currently in legislative session and most will adjourn by the end of June, except for the eight legislatures that meet year-round. AGB is continuing to track new proposals and legislation along with state policy issues that were first reported in 2016. What are some of these issues and trends?
- The value proposition of higher education and public scrutiny—many state policy makers continue their focus on affordability and accountability for educational quality, and are connecting these issues to performance funding and to state master plans/public agendas for higher education—some of which are increasingly focused on college completion and workforce development. Tensions related to public perceptions of and investments in higher education are compounded by fiscal shortfalls in many states.
- Institutional governance and board autonomy—governors and legislators in a handful of states have considered or enacted legislation that provide elected officials with increased authority over board member appointments and decisions related to campus safety, i.e. the ability of boards to “opt out” of state concealed carry laws. Limiting the ability of boards to make decisions about the campuses they govern poses risks to effective governance and board independence.
- Tensions over diversity, inclusion, and civility—this includes state proposals that challenge or raise concerns over undocumented students, sanctuary cities, immigration reform, and international travel bans. These debates are continuing on college/university campuses and often include dialogues related to free speech and academic freedom.