CHAIRMEN: Senator Bye
REPRESENTATIVES: Candelaria, LeGeyt, Ackert, Dillon, Haddad, Hurlburt, Janowski, McCrory, Rovero, Sawyer, Sayers, Stallworth, Yaccarino
SENATOR BYE: -- I'd like to call this public hearing to order and I apologize, just so people who are here understand, there is an Appropriations Committee hearing going on right now that is of very high interest because it has to -- it's -- it just is. Secretary Barnes is there now and many members her are also on Appropriations but we have folks here who will be taking, listening, taking notes as will the three of us -- you've got the three most important here anyway.
So I'm going to start with Senator Cassano who I do not see in the room, and then I'll call Representative Davis.
Good morning, welcome.
REP. DAVIS: Good morning, Madam Chairman, for the record, I'm State Representative Christopher Davis, I represent the towns of East Windsor and Ellington in the 57th District. Thank you for having me here today, and ranking member LeGeyt as well.
I'm here to testify on Senate Bill 238, AN ACT EXPANDING THE LEARN HERE, LIVE HERE PROGRAM on behalf of the House Republican Office. As you know it's one of the largest issues facing the state of Connecticut, young people are leaving in record numbers. We're facing a situation where young people are leaving and we're facing an aging population. Unless changes are made immediately, we're going to have a major fiscal problems in the years to come.
Learn Here, Live Here initiative is something that the House Republican Office has been offering for a number of years here. Last year we were fortunate enough to pass as part of the Majority Leader's bill to have the $1 million set aside for Learn Here, Live Here program to go into first-time homebuyer program for these young people that are graduating from state universities and from vo-technical schools.
What we're asking for in this bill is to expand that to $10 million but to leave the individual limitation for only $2,500 each year per individual in the program limited -- continue to have it limited to public colleges and universities as well as vo-tech schools and to limit it to only purchasing a first home.
In addition, ideally we would like to see it include both private universities and colleges here in the state of Connecticut, graduates from those institutions as well as having it be the limit of $2,500 removed and have it be for their entire income tax liability as well as using these funds to not only purchase their first home but also have it for paying off school loans and starting a business. I mean it's quite evident that we need to do something and we need to do it fast and I believe the Learn Here, Live Here program is something that will help attract young people to stay here in Connecticut. Because as someone who had just recently graduated from public a university here in the state of Connecticut, I can tell you that friends have left the state, numerous of -- a number of them and many times for no other reason than just to simply leave Connecticut. And I think we really need to do everything we can to turn that attitude around to that we can have a brighter future here in the state and I'm open to any questions you may have.
SENATOR BYE: Thank you, Representative Davis. Certainly a -- a wonderful goal and I appreciate you being here.
REP. LEGEYT: Thank you, Madam Chair.
And thank you, Representative Davis for coming here and testifying on this most important legislation. We -- we have all kinds of programs and initiatives going on to try to keep -- keep graduates in Connecticut, keep young people in Connecticut, focusing on business as well as maintaining their first home and certainly when someone goes to purchase a home in Connecticut, obviously the chances are great that they're going to stick around for a while and -- and this money is a wonderful step in that direction.
I -- I applaud the initiative that's being put forth in this present bill and look forward to working to make it happen.
REP. DAVIS: Thank you, Representative. And to give a perspective as well, I personally have gone through a situation where I was applying for my first mortgage for purchasing a home with my wife. And one of the major issues that came up during the underwriting process was out debt-to-income ratio due to the high amounts of student loans that I carry from going to University of Connecticut for not only my undergraduate degree but also for my master's as well.
A program like this though would not affect me because I have already graduated but for future generations of graduates from these universities could go a long way to giving them that additional money to cover that down payment to kind of relieve the underwriters from those pressures of having the debt-to-income ratio be thrown off because they'd be able to put down a higher down payment.
Also, on the other side of things, if we were to expand it to paying off the student loans, obviously that would have a very positive effect to try to keep young people here in the state as well as giving that money for entrepreneurs and to start up businesses here in the state. So if we can just make these initial steps, we've already done a million, if we could step it up to 10 million, keep the limits in here new that we have, we're comfortable with that but we'd like to see it expanded in the future. I think it could go a long way to making a situation where young people will be encouraged to stay here in the state because right now there's very little encouragement with the job market the way it is with the high cost of living here in the state. So this bill in particular would definitely help in that progress.
REP. LEGEYT: One other question. You -- you -- you mentioned that as a former graduate, or not-so-recent graduate you weren't able to avail yourself of this, the benefits of this bill. Do you know if there's a time frame involved? I would assume that you would be able to.
REP. DAVIS: My understanding, it's for graduates that graduate after the year of 2014 that are -- so that it would be students that are currently in college right now and then I believe it's when they graduate in 2014.
REP. LEGEYT: I see.
REP. DAVIS: That way it's not a situation where we're necessarily affecting people that are not -- that had graduated, say, 20 years ago from entering into this program because they simply graduated from a university of Connecticut. So those kinds of limitations have been put in there. I don't have the bill in front of me right now but I believe the limit was in 2014.
REP. LEGEYT: Thank you.
SENATOR BYE: Thank you very much.
I have one question which is, so you're asking to remove the $2,500 limit and I think the best part about this particular initiative is that you're looking to help make housing affordable in Connecticut. I mean, that's one of the big challenges for young people. It's expensive to live here because I think the quality of life drives up the cost of homes and things like that.
Do you have any estimate of the cost if we remove that $2,500 figure, if we -- now it's, you know, there's a million dollars that's been set aside from the jobs package. Do you know what the cost of that would be?
REP. DAVIS: Well as of right now, Senate Bill 238 actually keeps that limitation at $2,500 so as the Bill is currently presented, that limitation would be in place. From a perspective of trying to expand it and make it more, you know, worthwhile for young people to join it, we'd like that cap to be removed. I'm unaware of what that cost would be as the liabilities for individuals is obviously different per individual basis. So some people would actually fall under that $2,500 tax liability while, of course, some would be above it. So I'm unaware of exactly the numbers have been, I'm not sure if OFA has run those numbers as well. But as it stands right now in the language of the Bill, that cap on $2,500 tax liability would still be in place.
SENATOR BYE: Okay. Well I appreciate that. And any information you have about the costs I would really appreciate and I thank you for coming before the committee today.
Oh, I'm sorry, Representative Haddad, I didn't know you had a question.
REP. HADDAD: Thank you, Senator. I appreciate the opportunity. And thanks for coming to testify on this today.
I'm not sure that your -- I walked in late and I'm sorry I messed you verbal testimony. I think this is your written testimony, it doesn't have your name in it.
REP. DAVIS: Yes. It's from the -- this is a House Republican -- initiative so --
REP. HADDAD: Got you, thank you. And so I just wanted to clarify, so your testimony is that you think it should be -- the program should be expanded to include paying off student loans as part of the -- the -- your proposal?
REP. DAVIS: Well, we certainly support the way the Bill is written now because it would be an increase in the program. What we're asking for is, if at all possible under these tough fiscal times that we look to expand the program even further. Obviously a first step would be to bump it up as the 10 million as the Bill currently does. But obviously in the best scenario we would like those limitations removed as well so we can move forward so we can move forward with a even stronger program.
REP. HADDAD: Yes. I mean I think, you know, we -- we had an interesting public hearing here two days ago around an income tax proposal and we heard a lot of student testimony about how difficult student debt is coming out of college both not just an increase in the amount of student debt that students are carrying out of college, but also the proportion of them that carry student debt out of college is on the increase. Some economists see this as a potential financial bubble that will pop so as we've seen with mortgages because we've seen the default rate on student loans increase as well.
And so one of the concerns that I've had about Learn Here, Live Here is that it's sort of putting -- to some degree, putting the cart before the horse. You know, we have students leaving college with mass amounts of debt that is a severe impediment to them moving on to the next stage which is incurring debt for -- to buy a house of to do other things. And I think it's an improvement to this program to add -- to add that.
Can you tell me though, is there an income -- are there income guidelines for this program? Is this -- are all public school graduates eligible for this program regardless of what their income level is?
REP. DAVIS: My understanding is that under the -- the current system which was established by DECD under last year's proposal that was passed by both the House and the Senate and signed by the governor, I do not believe there is income levels, but I can certainly look into that for you and try to get back to you on that. I know right now we limit the tax liability at $2,500 and of course that's rather low for someone who's making a large amount of money coming out of college. But -- and as this Bill -- Senate Bill 238 is that that limit would still be in place. Of course we would like to see that limit removed so we can try to encourage as much money going back into the system and helping the economy as possible. But I can definitely look into it and find out from DECD if they have put into place in their regulations any income levels.
REP. HADDAD: Okay. And one final question which is the limit for the dollar amount for the program currently is a million dollars, you're seeking to increase it. Can you tell me now, is -- are the individuals who participate in the program, is their benefit prorated once you get to $1 million? I don't understand how you can limit the program size. Do we limit the number of individuals who can participate in the program? Do we limit the benefit that they can get out of the program or is it prorated? Do you know how that works?
REP. DAVIS: I'm unaware of exactly how the regulations were drawn up by the DECD for the current cap at $1 million. My understanding is that it would be total amount of money into the system so my guess would be once a number of people apply for it then it would be capped off and no longer accepting applicants into the system. I can certainly find out from DECD if that is in case the facts and get back to you. Because right now, if that is the case, it certainly limits the amount of people that can be participants and that's why it would be important to increase the limit to 10 million to open up that pool for even more young people to stay here in Connecticut.
REP. HADDAD: It would certainly bolster the argument to increase the limit if we knew if the program is operating successfully or not successfully as it currently stands.
REP. DAVIS: Well, what -- as I mentioned before in previous testimony I believe the target date is 2014 for graduates from the schools so it's a program that's set up for future enrollment.
REP. HADDAD: Right.
REP. DAVIS: So I'm unaware if anybody has applied for the program currently. We can find that out from DECD as well or if even the application process has even begun. And I'm unaware of that fact as well. What we're trying to do is basically plan for the future for the state of Connecticut which is something unfortunately our state government has been failing to do for many a years and if we can set up these programs as early as possible, get the word out, let people know that you have a -- there is motivation for you to stay here after you graduate, I think it would be a very positive second step in this case because we were able to make a very positive first step last year.
REP. HADDAD: Last question. The Commerce Committee is hearing -- has also heard a bill to expand this program. In that instance the bill would increase the eligible participants to include private school graduates and graduates from private occupational schools. And thoughts that you would -- I mean I imagine that we will in this committee see that bill after it -- if and when it comes out of Commerce. Do you have thoughts about how these two bills would work together?
REP. DAVIS: Sure. This Bill right here doesn't -- doesn't allow for private colleges and universities because it's going on the framework that was passed last year which limited it to public schools and public universities and then public vocational schools. As in my written testimony and my oral testimony, as well we would support bringing it up to private schools, private universities, private technical schools as well. I believe in Senate Bill 78 which is the one that went through the Commerce Department, it limited the program to certain occupations. I personally would be kind of against that because then we're kind of picking winners and losers and we're trying to fill certain slots, I guess, rather than necessarily allowing people to graduate from the university system work here in the state of Connecticut. Because many times you may go to college for one thing and then end up actually working in a field that's quite different and we'd want to capture as many young people as possible because they are the future of this state.
REP. HADDAD: Thank you.
SENATOR BYE: Representative Janowski.
REP. JANOWSKI: Thank you.
Just a couple of questions. You mentioned it would go into effect on 2014 and it would apply to those graduates, beginning with those graduates. Is there a time limit as to if someone graduates at 2014, do they have four years, five years from graduation date to be able to do this or what's the cutoff date?
REP. DAVIS: Right now the system is set up for -- or at least in statutory language is for 10 years they'd be able to participate for 10 years after graduation and within those 10 years if they decide to take a position in another state but still participate in the program when they were here, that money will still be in that account for 10 years. And if they decide to come back to the state of Connecticut they would be able to access those funds. If not, the money would be returned to the general fund after 10 years. So there is a 10-year limit after they graduate to when they can save those funds.
REP. JANOWSKI: Okay. And the other question has to do with once they purchase a home and they're able to access the funds, is there a requirement that they must own the home for a period of time in order for that -- as part of the agreement or can they buy and use the program and leave, three years later sell it?
REP. DAVIS: I am unaware of what the regulations were written by DECD as to limits. I know, for instance, the first-time homebuyer's program from the federal government did have some of those kinds of limitations in it and I think it certainly would be something that would be a positive move for the state of Connecticut to put those kinds of limitations in because you also don't want to see people necessarily using this program and than using it as an income property living somewhere else and becoming absentee landlords or whatnot and taking advantage of the program. So I can certainly look into it and get back to you about how DECD has structured it but I'm unaware if they have put in those time limits.
REP. JANOWSKI: Okay. I would like to know that because that would make a difference. And the -- also the 10-year after graduation, that might also be a very long stretch. I'm -- I'm not sure that that's where you want to go. But I'm sure that DECD is looking into that avenue as well?
REP. DAVIS: I'm unaware of exactly the negotiations as to why they came up with the 10-year limit, or 10-year time frame. I mean, if you just do the -- just looking at it from a large view, I guess it would be a situation where someone would most likely graduate from undergraduate program at age 21 or 22, that would give them to about their early 30s to make the decision to purchase a home. You know, we're seeing people getting married at later times, starting families at later times, not perhaps that was taken into account.
It really would put them in a position to purchase a home in their -- their early 30s if they were to go the entire program. But I'm unaware of why that was chosen. I wasn't involved in the negotiations of the statutory language so we can certainly try to find out that as well.
REP. JANOWSKI: Okay. So based on your response then, I can assume that this would apply to undergraduates graduating?
REP. DAVIS: Yes.
REP. JANOWSKI: Somebody with a B.A. or not necessarily with a master's or any other type of --
REP. DAVIS: I believe it would apply to people that do have master's and advanced degrees as well if I remember the legislative history on the floor of the House when the original bill was debated. But I think the intention of it was certainly to capture people that graduated from bachelor's programs.
REP. JANOWSKI: It's a good thought. I mean, the thought is there so I`m sure those are the kinds of things that can be worked out. And just one other question, you kept mentioning tax liability and someone else brought up income versus tax liability and I don't see the -- 2,400 mentioned in the Bill. What -- what kind of tax liability are you talking about? Just --
REP. DAVIS: Your income tax, what you owe to the -- what you owe to the State of Connecticut for your income taxes so it's a -- right now the limit is that you should only be able to set aside $2,500. If you owed the State of Connecticut anything more than that then that would just go into the regular general fund for your income taxes, you'd only be able to set aside the $2,500. The reason why it's not specifically mentioned in Bill 238 is because as it's written that -- that limitation would still be in place. You'd still only be able to set aside $2,500 a year on your income taxes that you pay to the State and anything above that you'd still have to pay into the general fund as anybody else would.
REP. JANOWSKI: So it's based on what you owe yearly on you income tax?
REP. DAVIS: Yes.
REP. JANOWSKI: Okay. You might want to look at the income also versus actual tax liability because the tax liability is much, much higher on single individuals in the state of Connecticut than it is on duals. And it -- in other words if you're looking at actual income, someone who might be at the $2,400 category might be in the income range of about $40,000. But someone, a couple who may be in the $2,400 income range might be -- or tax liability may end up in the range of about $150,000 or $100,000. So there's a big huge disparity so you need to look at the income as well.
REP. DAVIS: I would agree with that as well and as Representative Haddad mentioned too, I think it's -- it would be definitely worth noting and looking into from DECD if the regulations include caps on income as well because if somebody is making a large amount of money, you know, do we want to target those people and give them this or do we really want to help out the -- the working class and middle income individuals and families that are trying to -- trying to survive here in the state.
REP. JANOWSKI: Thank you.
SENATOR BYE: Representative Rovero.
REP. ROVERO: I have a question and it's a -- I think you're discriminating in this Bill and I'll tell you why. I live about eight miles from Massachusetts line. My four children went to school locally 12 years. Three of them went to school in Massachusetts, came to Connecticut, worked in the summers. Bought homes in Connecticut, engineers, and they're deprived of this privilege. Why are we just picking people that go to schools within Connecticut? It costs just as much out of state as in state. They're students, they were in state for 12 years, they came home in summertime and worked in Connecticut, they bought home -- purchased homes in Connecticut and you're saying just people that went to schools in Connecticut. Any special reason for that?
REP. DAVIS: My -- I've heard the program as it was designed last year kind of described as a pilot program to see how it goes situation and I believe that may have been a reason why it was limited to only public universities here from the state and from the colleges. You know, what we're asking for is to perhaps involve the private universities and colleges and private technical schools that are in the state. Would we be -- you know, looking into the future if it's a positive program for those people should we expand it to perhaps people who have moved into the state and went to other colleges? Perhaps that's a -- that's a future category that can be caught within the program as well. But as of right now, the limitation was put on public schools and public universities. The bill before the Commerce Committee and what we'd like to see as well is that this bill also includes private colleges, universities and vocational-technical schools as well.
REP. ROVERO: What about schools out of state? Because when you think about it, if my children were going to University of Connecticut, it would have cost the state of Connecticut money. By me sending them out of state, the state saved a lot of money. They came back here lived, came back here and purchased homes, but now we're not going to give them the same privilege. It doesn't make any sense to me. If we're going to set it up, let's set it up for anybody that was here for 10 or 12 years and went to school, came back here, purchased a home and lived here. I don't know what the difference between going to a local Connecticut school and going to a school out of state.
REP. DAVIS: I would certainly agree with you, Representative Rovero, that's certainly something that should be investigated and perhaps expanding the program as well. But unfortunately the language that's before us now is still with those limitations. You know, would the committee consider perhaps adding language to do -- do what you're asking for? I don't think that we'd be adverse to it because really our goal to it, this program, is to keep young people here in the state of Connecticut. And if we can do that by capturing some of these people that want to out-of-state schools as well, perhaps that's something that we should definitely look into.
SENATOR BYE: Thank you, Representative Rovero. Interesting point that you raised on that.
Well thank you so much for coming before our committee and we appreciate your testimony and will give it due consideration.
REP. DAVIS: Thank you, Senator Bye.
SENATOR BYE: Representative Aman followed by Senator Cassano.
REP. AMAN: For the record, I'm State Representative Bill Aman, the Representative from the 14th District. I'm here today to talk to you about Senate Bill 241, AN ACT ALLOWING ADJUNCT FACULTY MEMBERS OF THE REGIONAL COMMUNITY-TECHNICAL COLLEGE SYSTEM TO WAIVE MEMBERSHIP IN A STATE RETIREMENT PLAN.
This particular Bill, concept, was brought to me by a friend and it's a result of responsible legislation done on the federal level and responsible legislation done on the state level which unfortunately comes in conflict with each other.
The federal level -- says that if you're -- a participant in a pension plan, you may not make a deductible contribution to your IRA which makes all the sense in the world. On the state level, we have a law that says if you're a State employee, you must join the State retirement plan, which also makes all the sense in the world.
The problem comes in for the smaller courses. My particular acquaintance is an attorney, he teaches some of the title search courses, some of the other real estate courses. The most he has ever made as an adjunct professor in a year is $3,000, some years he makes as little as $300. Because of the federal law and the fact that he must be part of the State pension plan, he cannot fund his own pension plan with a deductible contribution. He's also been audited and proceeded to be fined for taking an illegal deduction on his tax return.
This has a obviously a chilling result on someone who is teaching these courses, especially now when we're looking forward going into the community college system and saying we need people to do job retraining. The best people to do job retraining is very often the owner of a small company of -- or a sole proprietorship and how do you tell them we're going to give you $500 for teaching this course and you're not going to be able to deduct your $12,000 contribution to your pension plan, we're not going to get teachers. And Manchester Community College has said now that the federal government is starting to audit this sort of thing, that more and more often people who realize it are saying I'd love to teach but I can't do it.
One of the other things that's strange about the legislation is if you teach at the branch here of the University of Connecticut in West Hartford, there's a carve-out that says you don't have to join the State pension plan. If you teach at the Manchester Community College or at Capital Community College the carve-out does not exist, you must teach -- join the plan. So this Bill basically just says that someone who is an adjunct professor has the same rights at the -- as a community college that they would have at a State university as saying I just don't want to participate in your pension plan. I don't want to make any contributions to it, I don't want you to make any contributions to it, and especially I don't want you to check that little box on my W-2 that says I'm eligible for a pension plan because it costs me way, way too much money.
So I ask this to go forward. I think the language in the Bill -- I was a little bit concerned about it in my testimony, I mention it. But if that is, I'm sure when the LCOs take it from this -- committee and goes to the other ones that if there are some problems in the way the language is written they can be straightened out. But the concept I think is pretty easy to understand.
And again I thank you for bringing forward the Bill and bringing it in to the committee. There were people that were going to also testify that sent in written testimony, but they've got to work for a living. You can't sit around here all day long and when they talk to me about it I said no just send it in in writing, the committee will look at that just as well.
SENATOR BYE: Yes, thank you so much. It's nice to have you before our committee, Representative Aman. And I want to also thank you for bringing this sort of conflict in the way we're doing things to our attention. It even took us a while in screening with the expert folks we have here from upstairs to figure it out and so we're going to make sure we get the language right. But I think there's wide agreement with your sentiment and you've done a really nice job explaining the problem. So I thank you for coming before us.
Are there questions?
REP. ACKERT: Thank you, Madam Chair.
Thank you, Representative, for your testimony and bringing this forward. I was curious, if -- you said there's a carve-out for the University of Hartford -- is it University -- UConn in Hartford?
REP. AMAN: No, it's any part -- any part of the university system. So I mean I just used that as example because they're both -- both local. But yes, if you're teaching at any one of the university systems there's a carve-out which I imagine the adjunct professors years ago said I'm not going to do this unless it came up.
I think it may have been brought to a head in the last couple years because the IRS had the capability now of putting the W-2s together. But someone like yourself, if you were going to teach a course in electrical at the community college level, you would lose your pension plan.
REP. ACKERT: Thank you for that clarification.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
SENATOR BYE: Sure, thank you for your question.
REP. JANOWSKI: Just a quick question. There is no cost to the State for doing this, correct?
REP. AMAN: No, it actually could save the State money because what happens now is they have to put money into the retirement fund and most of these professor -- people probably won't make the five years anyhow as they come in and out. So they'll never be vested in the -- in the program, then the State has to return a certain amount of money and I think my friend figured it out that if he did stay here 20 years he would get something under $20 a month from the State for retirement. It's -- so it's -- it may even save the State money because they don't have to do the bookkeeping on it.
REP. JANOWSKI: And just a -- just a point of clarification for myself. If they do go into the State plan, they're prohibited from going into their own plan at the federal level? Or --
REP. AMAN: Right, on the federal level, if -- you're only allowed to belong to one pension plan. And so you can either have your deductible personal pension plan or you can be part of a corporate plan or the State plan. With the State making it mandatory, that trumps the private one and therefore he's not allowed to make a deductible contribution into the regular pension plan that he has to make.
REP. JANOWSKI: But the deductible contribution is based on income, correct?
REP. AMAN: Yes, there's a whole series of regulations about it. The other thing that's strange about this, if he -- I would go back to him being an attorney. If he worked for a major law firm that had its own retirement plan, he wouldn't have any problem. The problem is because he's a sole proprietor is when it comes in.
REP. JANOWSKI: Very good, thank you.
SENATOR BYE: Thank you so much for your testimony.
Oh, Representative Rovero.
REP. ROVERO: Sorry about that, Madam Chair.
Quick question. I think it's a great idea, but down the line, you're not going to come back asking for the State to match these funds, are you? Like with -- right now you're saying that you can turn around and come back and say, well they're not on the State plan, now we want you to match the amount we're putting in the IRAs?
REP. AMAN: I would not come -- forward for this -- for it because these people are making so little money that even the time and effort it would make to take an application for the amount that the State puts away, I don't think would make economic sense for someone to even bother trying to do that.
Also, under the State rules, it's a five-year vesting before the money counts at all so you'd have to have somebody here that would even think about doing that would have had to be teaching for at least five years at a token amount of money. So I don't think that's a -- anything I would support.
REP. ROVERO: I'm just worried about someone coming back later and saying look it, I'm not in the State retirement plan so it doesn't cost the State anything but they should match some of the amount I put into my IRA like a lot of companies do.
REP. AMAN: I -- I can understand how you could say that could be possible, but the way we're set up with the *C-back agreements and stuff, I would find that very -- very unlikely that anything like that could ever actually happen. I'm not going to say that you won't have a bill, somebody may submit it to you, but I can't imagine it coming out of a committee.
SENATOR BYE: Thank you. Thank you.
Oh, Representative LeGeyt.
REP. LEGEYT: Thank you, Madam Chair and welcome, Representative Aman.
It appears to me and I'm wondering if you'll agree that as we look at this situation that's occurred, A, it may not have been intentional that -- that the setup is the way it is, and B, could certainly have been an oversight initially. And I would love to be able to characterize this as a technical change because it's not -- it's not -- it's not going to generate any fiscal note, it's not going to close a loophole that exists. Do you have any comment about that?
REP. AMAN: I think I probably agree with you. I know that when my friend first started doing this, when it got down to the part of his employment application that said what type of retirement plan do you want, he didn't bother checking any of the boxes because he didn't -- he knew he wasn't eligible for anything. But also there's a subchapter of the State law that says if you as an employee don't say what you want for a retirement plan we put you in to this particular one.
And so he was not even aware that he was in a retirement plan until the W-2 had the little box checked on the bottom. He looked at it and said who cares, and then he got audited.
REP. LEGEYT: And there is a 60- or 90-day window for people who are -- who teach or are employees of the -- the university system, they have to -- they can -- they can waive the pension plan but there's a certain window that they have to abide by and so people who teach for community college, not only do they not have the opportunity but that window doesn't exist as well. So this seems like it wasn't intended to be and was overlooked for some reason and so I'm hoping that this can be put in the category of a technical change and -- and move forward on that basis.
REP. AMAN: I would not -- couldn't be happier if it was in the midst of your big educational technical change bill.
REP. LEGEYT: Thank you.
SENATOR BYE: Thank you, Representative LeGeyt.
I want to thank you for this. I also want committee members to note, I don't know if you say Representative Aman that Kevin Lembo sent testimony supporting the Bill saying it would help them as well in the comptroller's office, that this seems like it has to be an issue that --
REP. AMAN: No, I had not. The only other people I had talked to was the union representatives that I know through the Labor Committee and they did not have any instinctive objection to this.
SENATOR BYE: Right. But I think our comptroller says this is a good idea, so he's gone out of his way to --
REP. AMAN: I'm sure he's looking at the bookkeeping charge* --
SENATOR BYE: Exactly right.
REP. AMAN: -- around this and saying I don't want to do this, it's too much effort.
SENATOR BYE: Exactly. Exactly. Well thank you so much for bringing this to our attention.
REP. AMAN: Okay, thank you.
SENATOR BYE: Have a great day.
Senator Cassano, you've been very patient. I'm sorry, I called you -- called you right early but you had other business in the building so I apologize for the wait. Good morning.
SENATOR CASSANO: Thank you very much, members of the committee, thank you for giving me this opportunity.
I'm here to testify on Senate Bill 239 introduced by Senator LeBeau, AN ACT CONCERNING A STUDY OF THE DISTRIBUTIONS OF THE BLOCK GRANT TO THE REGIONAL COMMUNITY-TECHNICAL COLLEGES AND THE CONNECTICUT STATE UNIVERSITY SYSTEM.
Community College System, in fact Manchester and Norwalk will be celebrating its 50th year in existence -- I think Norwalk's a little older -- next year. And for the record, I am a graduate of MCC, Manchester, and a former member of the faculty.
We have a very unusual situation in that we have, first of all, State revenues that are used to fund the Community College System. That's not unusual, but in addition, as a place *formula -- a place and formula-driven methodology that shares tuition revenue across the 12 community colleges. Some pay in and some receive and that's an issue.
The -- to give you a -- an example, in fact it might have been the model. We know well in this building the rivalry between the Red Sox and the Yankees. The Red Sox and the Yankees are very wealthy baseball teams. They -- their owners are -- this is a hobby for them. They make so much money that they have a revenue sharing formula as well and they distribute money to other teams in the league and with their wealth they can afford to do that.
Under this formula that I'm testifying about, the distributors are the students at Manchester Community College. This year, $3 million of tuition revenue from MCC students is being distributed through the system, through the system to other colleges and it's not right. Twenty-one cent of every dollar paid in tuition is distributed in this formula. Twenty-one cents of every foundation grant, private grants that come to the college, it distributed through the system, much of that to support the central office of the Community College System.
You're in a very good position right now to deal with this because we're going through an incredible change and hopefully we'll be able to address this so that things like this don't continue to happen. There are millions and millions of dollars in that central office fund that have come directly from tuition payments of community college students and those funds should stay in the Community College System.
I can tell you firsthand, you've heard the stories as well, of the number of students that have tried to register for classes, there were no classes available, there were no faculty, we are at a risk level as far as accreditation because we don't have enough full-time -- employees and so on. I can go on and on and on with what the impact is of losing that kind of money.
As to the private donations, this year alone Manchester gave out I believe it was 400 -- no, $200,000 was awarded to scholarships this year by MCC, 200,000. It may be right here, right, 200,000. Under that formula, again, 21 percent of the $200,000 went to the central office. Imagine if we could have used that for scholarships. So we're taking basically 21 cents of every dollar and distributing it.
Now, there is no doubt in my mind that some of the smaller colleges need help, but it shouldn't be funded by MCC tuition, nor other college tuition. That's not the system, that's not the way it should be established. That's wrong. And so Gary LeBeau, Senator LeBeau's bill is asking us to look at that, asking you to look at that. Clearly they are -- the Board of Regents is aware of this situation and we hope that this can be rectified quickly because it makes a difference in us meeting accreditation, providing the opportunities to students that need to be provided.
And I'll tell you the other thing that's important, as more and more people are aware of this. When somebody says I want to make a donation, somebody whose mad a half a million-dollar donation to the college, they're concerned that that half a million dollars goes to a college that they're familiar with. They don't want 20 percent to go to a central office somewhere and it shouldn't go somewhere else. So I ask you to support this bill and work with the regents to hopefully rectify this as quickly as possible.
SENATOR BYE: Thank you, Senator Cassano, for bringing this to our attention. I know there are some questions. I'm going to start by handing it over to my cochair who knows a whole lot about community colleges.
REP. WILLIS: Thank you.
And thank you, Senator, for coming here to advocate for your community college. I have a couple of questions. I serve on Community College Foundation Board, Northwestern Connecticut Community College which is the smallest, but it does great things.
SENATOR CASSANO: Absolutely.
REP. WILLIS: I'm confused since I'm on the board, I don't recall us -- is -- is this something unusual that the foundation boards at all the schools send money to the central office? Because I don't remember that ever being on our agenda, it's not that -- maybe it's happening and I didn't pick up on it. Or --
SENATOR CASSANO: For Northwestern you're probably on the receiving end.
REP. WILLIS: What?
SENATOR CASSANO: For Northwest -- Northwestern Community College you are probably on the receiving end.
REP. WILLIS: So you're raising private dollars, you're saying, at -- at Manchester and those private funds are coming to Northwestern?
SENATOR CASSANO: Only 21 percent, 21 cents on a dollar. And they're not coming necessarily -- they're coming in the formula to be distributed to quote, community colleges, those that need funds. And I can give you a simple example. Let's say that Northwestern needed $50,000 for a new course they were going to offer. So in the formula distribution you get $50,000 but at the end of the year you haven't done that, you can put that in your reserve account, it doesn't come back to Manchester. That's part of the way the system works. It's not a good system. It's -- it's designed to help the smaller colleges and that part is fine, but we should be directing that money through the state grants not through tuition payments. Manchester's paid almost $10 million in the last four years into this fund.
REP. WILLIS: Okay. I guess where I'm confused here, I understand the distribution, and I can -- I could put a good argument up why I think -- well, we redistribute income tax throughout the state of Connecticut. I'm sure that someone from a Westport or Weston or Wilton or Greenwich or some towns in Litchfield County would feel that we shouldn't be sending money to Hartford or New Haven or Bridgeport. So I'm not sure -- sure I'm buying in to the -- the thinking here.
But I'm -- where I'm confused is the foundation. Your foundation is raised, sometimes people leave us money, correct? And you're saying that the money that we're raising on a local level from local people, local businesses, is -- 20 percent of what we're raising is going into the central office?
SENATOR CASSANO: Any money for scholar -- private scholarship donations specifically. Any money, 21 percent of that money goes.
REP. WILLIS: Scholarship monies?
SENATOR CASSANO: Right.
REP. WILLIS: Okay, well --
SENATOR CASSANO: And remember it's not the taxpayer it's students that are paying this. It's not the homeowner in Greenwich or whatever, it's students that are paying this --
REP. WILLIS: No, I understand that.
SENATOR CASSANO: -- who are being denied courses, teachers, all the other kind of programs and so on. If that $3 million was in the budget this year that the students had paid into it, there probably would have been a lot more going on at the college.
REP. WILLIS: Well, I also just want to say, and I don't want to -- obviously I'm very invested in -- in the small schools.
SENATOR CASSANO: Sure, you are, I know.
REP. WILLIS: I would like to point out to those who have larger schools, like Manchester, that you have an absolutely drop-dead campus, beautiful school, pathways. Northwestern does -- has just got its first building after being the first community college, we were in an old building aver 100 years that -- not even sure what it was. We were in a grocery store, we were in a gas station. So we -- weren't the recipient of state monies to build a beautiful school. Manchester has benefited by taxpayers across the state to build themselves a gorgeous community college. And you can look at New Haven, they didn't have the benefit of that, now finally they're going to get a community college. But they were -- they're housed right now in a -- in a warehouse. So, you know, when you weigh all those factors together, I think Manchester has done very well compared to many of our other community colleges.
So -- but I will follow up on the foundation issue because that does bother me as someone who contributes to the foundation. Thank you.
SENATOR BYE: Thank you, Madam Chair.
I just have a couple of quick questions, Senator Cassano. How do -- and I'm trying to understand how the financing works and you've clearly spent a lot of time on this issue and so I'm hoping you can help me understand.
So as I understand it, the State gives block grant -- we -- the State Legislature and the governor appropriate dollars to a block grant system. The block grant goes to the Board of Regents now, it's different, and then those monies are distributed to the campuses. It was always my impression that any differentiation happened that way versus the other way which is -- what you're talking about, you're saying that student tuition dollars are floating back versus Manchester getting a reduced block grant.
How do you know it's one and not the other?
SENATOR CASSANO: It's -- they have a specific formula, I think it was probably created to fund the central office. I don't think, as an example if you looked at the University System before it was changed, it was funded that way. Nor was the University of Connecticut's offices funded that way. They needed a way to fund the central office and so this is -- they came up with this assessment formula. How they determined the percentage of three point whatever it is, I have no idea, I don't think many people do. Quite honestly, most people except for college presidents didn't know this even existed, it was one of those things that was -- we had heard rumors on for years that, well, you know, we've lost this, we've lost that, but it was just one of those things that proceeded to happen. And -- it's a substantial amount of money, it was -- you had to fund central office apparently because the block grant that came from the State had nothing to do with the operation of the -- overall operation of the college.
SENATOR BYE: Okay, okay. Well I understood it to be, based on our consolidation work last year, that as we found savings for the central office that the block grants would naturally flow, the additional dollars that were saved with the -- I think it ended up being $24 million, around there, would naturally flow down to the campuses because it was the block grant that funded the central office. So I'm not -- I'm not disagreeing with you, I'm just saying it -- it's important that you're here today because you're interfering with the way that my brain was processing how the dollars were distributed.
SENATOR CASSANO: And this additional dollars probably are in fact doing exactly that because they'll have a project for building somewhere on a community college campus, Northwestern or wherever it's going to be, you know, we all started the same way. When I was a student there in 1965 I went to three trailers, a building, a grocery store, many of us -- we all grew the same way. And -- and unfortunately in the case of Manchester with the success they've had they're -- they're paying back in a different way now. And -- and again, I have no problem sharing but I don't think it should -- I would -- if you gave me less in a block grant, and let us do something.
SENATOR BYE: Exactly.
SENATOR CASSANO: -- a simple example, they saved $265,000 by doing energy efficient programs on the campus using solar panels and so on. It went to the central office. Now what's the incentive for us to save money? I mean those are the kinds of things that need to -- to be changed so there are incentives to do things right. To recruit students, to provide programs and so on, and with this system in place it kind of takes away that incentive.
SENATOR BYE: Yes. I'm just going to ask one more question because I know other committee members have questions. But -- but this one has to do with the, you know, the uniqueness of each campus. So I'm from a community where some of our -- high school graduates go to Capital Community College and others of our graduates go to Manchester Community College and I bet it's split, I think probably more go to Manchester than Capital and I never understand that. But -- I will say that of the students from my community that go to Manchester, they tend to be students whose families can pay the full fare of tuition. And the families from my community that tend to go to Capital tend to be more families that have financial need.
So is it your impression that Manchester has more full-pay students than perhaps other community colleges that are located in more urban settings? And that might change the way that their financing works because they have to charge the same tuition no matter what. Like maybe, hey, we got more full-pays so we can charge less tuition but you can't do that so -- that's my last question.
SENATOR CASSANO: I think it could be driven by programming, as an example the R.N. program which is one of the better -- bigger programs at Capital, can turn around job opportunities in a two-year period, that makes a big difference to people.
In this economy particularly, I mean we have seen the college grown each year, in fact, they had -- they froze levels last year, they turned people away, they had a freeze because we didn't have all our tuition. But I say that because parents today are understanding that if you go to the community college for two years, you take all your base courses, then you transfer on. And -- and -- I started the alumni association, that was part of my job as a faculty member was to run an alumni association and I can tell you we had students who were number one at Harvard, at Yale, at Trinity, at schools across the country because you have returning students that never came back to school before. You have outstanding students who are going to take those first two years at a much cheaper cost, then parents are saying you go to the community college for two years, I'll pay the difference, the next two years you go anywhere, and students are doing that.
So you're seeing it's not just people in job training programs, it's not people just going to school because they have nothing to do. They're going to get those two years out of the way, two and a half in some cases because most will take the five or six courses when they can and they've got a much shorter period of time at UConn which is three times the cost or -- or University of Hartford or Trinity, wherever it might be.
SENATOR BYE: Okay, thank you. I -- my point was just that you may have more full-pay students at Manchester that others do and that -- that might change the financing a little bit. But it's clearly very complicated and I think the thing that you said that I really am holding on to is the fact that student tuition dollars are what's transferring back, not that the block grant's being reduced.
SENATOR CASSANO: Right.
SENATOR BYE: So I think we need to look -- I think we need to look at that and I can tell you that one of the great advantages of consolidation is that this is all sort of being reexamined and how dollars were distributed, I know that was one of the first things they started looking at this summer. So thank you.
REP. ACKERT: Thank you, Madam Chair.
Thank you, Senator, for your testimony and obviously your advocacy for your community colleges.
Just, I'm having a real struggle with this having served as a trustee for almost five years for the community colleges and having a good -- I thought a decent understanding of some of the finances that wasn't in my jurisdiction. But is it that you're saying that tuition -- and I just want to get clarification, that is it paid tuition dollars, in other words the student that goes to the school's tuition dollars go into a fund that is spread throughout the district, I mean throughout the system which -- and I don't mean to sound -- that makes -- in a way it makes sense. You're paying into the Community College System. And we used to say that as trustees that the student or family pays two days of the education, the State picks up the other three days, that was the -- the goal was to, you know, provide a stepping stone, if you wanted to, now it's a wonderful, not a stepping stone, it's, you know, career based.
And the second part would be that the foundation dollars, because I know and -- Norwalk Community College has a phenomenal foundation and has multimillions. So it's two parts, the tuition dollars, I understand going into a pool that's, you know, picks up the costs of running the community colleges and secondly, the foundation dollars. You're stating that they go into a similar pool?
SENATOR CASSANO: In the tuition -- it's a tuition revenue-sharing program. Again, it's like the Red Sox and Yankees, it's a revenue-sharing program. The tuition is pooled and redistributed and it's redistributed to help, which I don't have a problem with except that you use the tuition dollars to redistribute. And that -- when you're making cuts while you're giving your dollars away, that's hard to do. And some of those dollars end up going into reserve accounts to build reserve accounts while we're cutting classes. It's not right.
REP. ACKERT: No, I understand there's a struggle there and there was always a goal with this Legislature itself also to have 60 percent, at least, full-time professors that were down to 35ish, 37 percent. It's a -- it's a struggle right now.
And I think I'll leave that question for now. If I have another one I might be asked -- I would ask the chair to if I'd get a chance. But thank you, Senator, for your testimony.
And thank you, Madam Chair.
SENATOR BYE: Thank you for your question.
Representative Janowski. Oh, LeGeyt, sorry, I'm sorry. I had my -- my ranking member is -- I should have called on him first anyway.
REP. LEGEYT: I'm not concerned that I won't get a turn. Thank you, Madam Chair.
Welcome, Senator. This Bill asks that a study be done and your testimony here today and the comments that it's generated clearly indicate that that's a very worthwhile thing to do at this point.
My question is, having looked at the Bill, do you think it's framed properly so that the study will unearth the concerns that you have? Or at least will focus on that aspect of the financing for community colleges that -- that you have a concern about?
SENATOR CASSANO: I -- I believe -- there's obviously been response and communication with -- with the new board and their leadership. They understand the problem. I don't think anybody on that board knew this existed when they got there. Most of us didn't know it existed. They recognize it's a problem, they recognize they need to support the smaller colleges in some way that's significant. So they're going to have to come up with a way to do that and I think that they will do that in good faith.
REP. LEGEYT: Thank you.
SENATOR BYE: Thank you.
REP. JANOWSKI: Senator Cassano, good to see you.
I do remember those trailers at the Manchester Community College campus. I think I attended a few classes in those trailers.
Just a couple of questions. First of all, this is the first time I've heard of this pooling that seems to be happening and the only thing I could equate it to, or relate it to is the -- similar to the hospital tax. That's, you know, that's just a simple version, I guess, of what it might be.
And I just want to touch on what Representative Ackert -- some of it was clarified based on his question having to do with, if I understand it correctly, if, just hypothetically, if a college has $2 million in foundation money, they have to give 21 percent to this pool?
SENATOR CASSANO: If it's in the -- any scholarship -- there are some -- if it's a restricted it's okay.
REP. JANOWSKI: Well, let me -- let me rephrase the question.
SENATOR CASSANO: If it's a scholarship they take 21 cents.
REP. JANOWSKI: Okay, so -- so foundation money 21 percent, tuition money 21 percent. So it's from both -- that's why when you were talking --
SENATOR CASSANO: Two separate pots.
REP. JANOWSKI: -- about student money going into the pot versus private money going into the pot.
SENATOR CASSANO: Two totally separate pots.
REP. JANOWSKI: Okay. But -- but some of that goes into the central office pool, whatever they call it. All right, now I get it.
And the other question I have for you is who else contributes to this pool? We hear Manchester Community College contributes to this pool, but what other colleges contribute to it?
SENATOR CASSANO: Well, I would think Norwalk has to be one, Naugatuck would be one, probably Tunxis, the bigger colleges probably would contribute.
REP. JANOWSKI: -- question. Just all the bigger colleges contribute, so it's not a sliding scale kind of thing where every community college contributes based on their wealth or based on what tuitions or foundation they're able to raise?
SENATOR CASSANO: Those are probably all factors in the formula. They have a formula that is still somewhat undetermined, we don't know how you get to the formula. But programming is a part of that. Clearly some programs cost more than others to run and so on. But it's -- to me it's not so much the distribution as the source of the distribution.
REP. JANOWSKI: And has it always been 21 percent or did it increase recently?
SENATOR CASSANO: I have no idea. I have no -- I didn't know it existed until recently.
REP. JANOWSKI: I didn't either. I didn't know until -- it existed until it came to my attention at a breakfast some months back. And I said what? It just didn't make sense to me.
SENATOR CASSANO: I think when every president is sworn in, they're sworn to secrecy.
REP. JANOWSKI: But we know it exists. You're -- you want the study to take another look at it.
SENATOR CASSANO: Correct.
REP. JANOWSKI: Perhaps make the -- if it's determined that this fund needs to continue, maybe have a more equitable way of redistributing the funds. Is that -- is that part of the issue?
SENATOR CASSANO: That should be a part of it. You know, determine what that source is going to be and -- and there should be a follow on the dollars. I mean if -- if college A donates to college B for specific program and puts in $50,000 that's never used, it goes into their reserve account. That's not right. I mean those -- if it's going to go for a purpose be used, if not bring it back.
REP. JANOWSKI: Okay, that makes sense.
SENATOR CASSANO: And the foundation money, I mean why would you want to donate any amount of money to -- I mean you -- you donate to a local community college because the local foundation and many (inaudible) foundations, we go out, we work until we raise money and so on and if you're losing 20 percent of that it's going to affect your donors.
REP. JANOWSKI: And just one more point of clarification. That funding, this money that goes to the central office, do we know how much percentage of that is used to support the central office as opposed to being redistributed back to the community colleges?
SENATOR CASSANO: Do we know how much? I've heard ranges of numbers that are incredibly high, I don't know how accurate they are so I don't want to quote numbers. The -- I think that the -- the board probably has an idea. We're talking about millions and millions of dollars -- that's in that fund that has been built up over time.
REP. JANOWSKI: Okay. Well, that -- that seems like a very legitimate reason for a study. We need to know that. Very good, thank you very much.
SENATOR BYE: Thank you very much, Representative Janowski.
SENATOR BOUCHER: Thank you, Madam Chairman.
And thank you, Senator. It's a pleasure to see you and I apologize for being here later as I had a conflicting meeting at the same time and I'm just trying to catch up on this issue and you seem to be quite an expert and we're glad to have that expertise here.
Could you help me understand how long has this -- this practice and this fund and formula been in place?
SENATOR CASSANO: I'm told years. We had a president resign maybe four years ago and it was there when he came 15 years ago. So I don't know if it's been the way that we have funded the central office over time. Again, it has been a very small group of people that have been involved in the process. I can tell you as -- when I was chairman of the Faculty Senate I knew nothing about this as chair of the Faculty Senate so I mean that gives you an idea, I mean it's -- it's been a very close-knit group, it's a -- it's a formula process that's developed and I assume that if you're a college president and you're told this is -- you live by the rules and these are the rules. So how they determined and -- and what's been done, I have no idea.
SENATOR BOUCHER: This gets more interesting the more we discuss this issue.
SENATOR CASSANO: Intriguing.
SENATOR BOUCHER: When you say central office, and when you say president, who do you mean? Do you mean the Higher Education Central Office or Constituent Unit Central Office?
SENATOR CASSANO: The Community Colleges Central Office that oversaw the -- the operation of community colleges. All of this was strictly within the community college budget and the Community College System.
SENATOR BOUCHER: And -- and yet this talks about the Bill, it talks about the State University System as well. How does that play into the issue?
SENATOR CASSANO: Well simply because of the merger now into one area, a lot of this money has been taken from community colleges over years to build up this base of money that's in this central office account and, you know, I would hate to see that just go back into the system, into the general fund or whatever it might be when all of the colleges still have needs. If we just redistribute that money back to some of the projects that are on hold. A, we're not going to bonding because it's there, let's use the money for the -- what it was intended for, the money went in there from community colleges.
SENATOR BOUCHER: Well, I really thank you for bringing this to the committee's attention and I think we all -- you can sense we all have an interest into how this account is managed, where it's going from here and if the more appropriate action would be for it to go back into the constituent units. I also share the concern by my fellow committee members of if the language is strong enough to accomplish the goal that you're seeking. Thank you very much.
SENATOR BYE: Thank you and I also see a representative from the Board of Regents here. If -- if you have any information that you can get to this committee because I know there are some significant plans for structural change on these issues, that would be helpful before the end of the session because then we can craft the Bill to make sure it accomplishes what we want it to accomplish given the new, sort of, structure. Okay? Thank you so much.
SENATOR CASSANO: And the foundation is submitting testimony as well itself.
SENATOR BYE: Yes, and we'll look at that. Thank you so much, Senator Cassano, really appreciate you taking the time. You can see that we are very interested in this. You're talking about money, we're all like leaning forward.
So this concludes the public part of our public hearing and so we will go to the other list which is the general public list and the first speaker there is Judy Greiman.
Good morning, Judy.
JUDITH B. GREIMAN: Good morning. My name is Judy Greiman, thank you for allowing me to speak. I'm here in support of the concept raised by House Bill 5221. We don't support the language as written as this would create a system that would forever advantage some institutions over others merely by the date of establishment. But we certainly support the concept of reducing regulation of independent college academic programs.
Connecticut's program approval process for the nonprofit independent higher ed sector is different and more -- restrictive than in most other states and there's data in my testimony about what happens in those other states.
As many of you know, this has been an issue for our sector for years, we've has some very good conversations with both the Department and Governor Malloy over the past year about our desire to see a reduction in the process and I would just say there is great passion on the issue but as deference to you I didn't bring the -- the hoards. I do have a provost who can talk about her experience in other states and their *approach from another institution. So just wanted to let you know that.
Date collected by CCIC shows that 36 states have no regulatory approval -- no regulatory authority over the approval of academic programs offered by private, nonprofit, independent colleges and universities and of the 14 states that do, the requirements for approval vary widely and there's information on all those which I won't go through now. We see this certainly as connected to economic development efforts, we need to be nimble, we need to be able to quickly meet employer demands. As many of you have seen in our other testimony, when you look at the key -- economic development cluster areas in this state, 50 to 80 percent of those degrees are coming out of our sector, I think it's important that our sector be able to be responsive to employer needs. We connect with the employer community through advisory relationships, internships, research, guest teaching, et cetera and in developing our programs we assess the academic foundations and rigor, the institutional fit, available teaching, support and faculty resources and market viability. Our proposed programs go through various extensive on-campus reviews and only the academically and financially strong programs are ultimately offered.
We certainly appreciate that OFAAA staff have worked hard over the last year to minimize the required process and they report that the process takes about -- I'm not sure if it's about or an average of three months, but it is still a process that inhibits our ability to respond to the market. Additionally, given the timing of OFAAA and the State Board of Ed meetings and the time it takes for college to advertise a program, we can lose an entire academic year in terms of being able to admit students to a new program, it just depends on the timing.
So it's, you know, what I want you to know and I'll quickly sum up, these are, again, programs -- no state funding for these programs, they are fully vetted at the campus level and the way that the legislation is now configured after last year's change is that our institutions now go through their home campus board and the State Board of Ed where as the CSU and community colleges as they were called go through one board which is the Board of Regents.
I'll just sum up by saying given that the language as written we think there's some problems with it, I've provided additional language as well as a structure which is listed here in the bullets. Essentially nonprofit colleges and universities have been accredited by regional accrediting body like NEA for at least 20 years would submit their paperwork to OFAAA and to peers. OFAAA would have 30 days to review that and had the authority to, sort of, pull into the regular process either programs that were a degree level change or where OFAAA saw some -- had significant concerns as to the quality of the application. If they didn't do that the program would be deemed approved and frankly we've spent time really listening to concerns raised by OFAAA and others about our desire to reduce regulation and hope that this is something that meets those concerns. Thank you.
SENATOR BYE: Thank you so much, Judy. I -- I'm smiling because I'm thinking, you know, as we were going through the legislative process last year with the Board of Regents merger, the reason we created the Office of Financial Aid and Academic Affairs was because of the independent college concern about the Board of Regents doing program approval for private colleges. So it's just -- I'm just saying that as sort of a -- that's sort of why they're there and now we're hearing a bill about changing their role significantly which -- which I understand.
As -- as I listen to you, it sounds like the process you're suggesting is somewhat like Maryland's because I had looked through what goes on in other states. Would you say that's accurate?
JUDITH B. GREIMAN: It's similar to, it's not exactly, but I know that they do have a -- I believe a short posting period.
SENATOR BYE: They have 30 days.
JUDITH B. GREIMAN: And -- and some deemed approval so it's similar to but not exactly.
SENATOR BYE: Okay, so you're saying, let's say, you know, there's a program that there have been concerns about right now that the Board of -- that the Office of Financial Aid and Academic Affairs is -- is looking at. And I think there are concerns on this committee that something like that, that OFAAA would still have the ability to say you can't give a degree if there's no job -- not no job but no -- it's a -- it's a medical profession where the degree they would get would not be a degree that could really be used in Connecticut as I understand it. And I'm probably not saying it just right, but how would this protect against programs like that just coming right online?
JUDITH B. GREIMAN: What -- what this says is where -- again, we've listened to what -- some concerns raised by OFAAA and by others that they don't want just to give blanket approval to any institution and so what it would do is it -- where there are issues raised by virtue of the -- the quality of the application, OFAAA would be able to say, you know, we're looking at this and we see a problem so we are going to take this into the regular process.
SENATOR BYE: As I understand what happens now is that the thing that slows applications down is if there are concerns, you know, versus just a backlog. Is that your impression?
JUDITH B. GREIMAN: No, because the other issue is around scheduling and so, you know, for example if you make -- if you don't make this committee meeting or you don't make that State Board of Ed agenda, it's just slowing it down. And, you know, the -- the -- I understand why things were ultimately moved to the State Board of Education but at -- at this point it -- I believe that they essentially put on consent all of these programs and they are approved having received OFAAA approval. So institutions are waiting for that final step and it, again, if you miss that agenda then you're another month. So it's not just the time it takes to review the program.
SENATOR BYE: Got it. Thank you very much for that.
Representative LeGeyt and then --
REP. LEGEYT: Thank you, Madam Chair.
JUDITH B. GREIMAN: Good morning.
REP. LEGEYT: I have a -- I have a complicated question, I guess. Seems complicated to me, you'll probably manage it quite nicely.
I'm on the Public Health Committee and in the public health arena there's a process through the state called a certificate of need whereby one medical institution, whatever size, wants to increase its scope and -- and add a department or add some equipment, may have to apply to DPH for a certificate of need to justify that they can then go ahead and do what they wanted to do. Their interest is based on, you know, a business structure and they have justifications there, but the -- the overlay by DPH and the certificate of need is to protect against too many medical organizations in too close a cluster from doing the same thing.
So transfer to the independent college arena, has it been your -- is it your understanding and has it been your experience that part of the process of reviewing for -- for program changes is based on whether or not there will then be too many of those same programs in any given area, a small state like Connecticut, statewide perhaps, as opposed to the state, the Office of Financial Affairs making a determination that it's in the best business interest of the -- of the independent college to make this offering?
JUDITH B. GREIMAN: The way the process works now and we wouldn't recommend a change in this aspect of it is that the regulatory process looks at public college programs based on need and quality. The quality of the academic program, you know, do you have the right courses and number of credits and books in your library, et cetera, quality of the academic program, and need on the public college side because there's state support, and only academic quality on the private college side.
So what drives the private college side around need is -- it's really more market driven. I mean it's market driven on the public college side as well, but there is that additional look on the public college side about need.
REP. LEGEYT: I can certainly understand on the public college side where the Board of Regents or OFAAA, you know, has a vested interest because funds are going to flow. But it wouldn't make sense to me that OFAAA would engage in any better of a business determination of an independent college's decision to offer a program than the college itself would undergo. They're closer to it, they -- they have a much better idea of how it would impact, how it would benefit. So -- and under this Bill, OFAAA would then have that authority for independent colleges?
JUDITH B. GREIMAN: It wouldn't change the -- OFAAA would only be looking at academic quality in the same way they do now. They would only be -- when they were looking at a program it would be for academic quality so I wouldn't -- I don't propose adding need to that review and I don't think anybody has.
REP. LEGEYT: So we're really talking about convenience, scheduling and flexibility of -- of the process as it regards to time lost and that kind of thing?
JUDITH B. GREIMAN: Correct.
REP. LEGEYT: Thank you.
REP. WILLIS: I notice we lost our chair so I'll take over.
Welcome, Judy. I have a -- I have a question. I notice something and maybe you can help me because I think it's -- it's interesting and may be related.
When you look at the 36 states that don't require any kind of approval for new programs, you're really talking about states primarily outside of New England. New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire aren't on -- on that list. Maine and Rhode Island are, but the rest of our New England states and New York and New Jersey are not there. And I always think that there's -- that that's -- there's a nexus connection because we have so many private institutions as compared to the Midwest and -- and the west coast. And so there's, I mean, Massachusetts we're talking -- hundreds of -- would that be fair to say? How many independents there are, private in Massachusetts? It's incredible.
JUDITH B. GREIMAN: Big number.
REP. WILLIS: Huh?
JUDITH B. GREIMAN: It's a big number.
REP. WILLIS: It's a very big number. So -- and Connecticut, I mean that's what really, I think, makes Connecticut and the New England states really, not just nationally but internationally, a place where people, prestigious, find long histories of private colleges.
So that's -- that's wonderful and that's out strength. I've always felt that that's -- that we have such a rich landscape and variety.
So given that landscape, does that -- has that really affected how these processes have become into place over the years? And -- and the other thing is, I notice that some of the other states do have some sort of modified -- New England, Vermont, Massachusetts -- could you speak to a little bit about any of those and do you see any of them as a model that Connecticut could look towards because we have similar higher ed landscapes?
JUDITH B. GREIMAN: Well, I think that you see -- right these are -- the New England states are the older -- higher ed institutions. I mean there are some of my folks who would say, right, and if you look at the economies that are booming, they're not New England economies and those institutions in the other states are able to really quickly respond.
As it happens, two of the four New England states have no program approval. Massachusetts is two or the four -- two of the six New England states have no program approval for private colleges and that, you know, those institutions operate in an academically sound way and there don't appear to be more problems in Rhode Island than there are in Connecticut.
What's interesting about the rest of the New England and sort of this region is, you'll hear from a provost from Saint Joseph College who formerly worked in Massachusetts and Massachusetts has an odd -- it's a date in the statute whereby 24 institutions are exempt from any program approval process and what I've heard from my colleagues in Massachusetts is, and there's no difference in quality of academic program that comes out of this institution that happens to have been created then and this institution that happens to have been created after that date.
So it's a little bit all over the -- all over the map in terms of how the New England, New York, you know, MidAtlantic states actually do their program approval. What we try to do in -- in -- we looked at all of them. What we tried to do -- and some of them are what I'll call by exception where you submit programs and, again, if there's an issue that's identified, then it goes through a process. I think that's what happens generally in New Jersey, I think that's what happens generally in Maryland. And so that's what we tried to do. We -- we heard, loud and clear, that people both in this building and across the way are not interested in no regulation of our sector and so what we tried to say was, okay, let's look at, you know, were there institutions that have had NEA's accreditation for a period of time, A, and B, give OFAAA, give the regulatory body the right to jump in on a program that they think has a problem or where there's a level change, you're going from a bachelor's degree only campus to offering Ph.D.s or something. Give them that right.
So I think we really tried to look at ways to keep them in the mix that are somewhat similar to some other states. I mean every state is a little different of the 11 or so that do program approval.
SENATOR BYE: Thank you, Judy.
REP. ACKERT: Thank you, Madam Chair.
And Judy, a pleasure to meet you as a new member of Higher Ed.
I actually had the opportunity -- I -- I guess approve and disapprove programs as I served as a trustee for the community colleges. And all of us, all our community colleges were under one program review and turnaround was pretty much rather quick, I believe, in terms of the, you know, the -- obviously the research as to why to remove a program and to why a, you know, a program was going to be added for changes in economic climates or, you know, in terms of the, you know, the maybe job -- may be new to the -- solar programs I remember were big and we approved many of those.
Do each of your -- each of your colleges that you represent have their own approval process?
JUDITH B. GREIMAN: Yes. You mean internal on the campus?
REP. ACKERT: In -- for their community -- I mean for their colleges. Each -- so let's say -- I'm just reading on the bottom of your -- Albertus Magnus, does that have its own review process for programs?
JUDITH B. GREIMAN: Yes. Before any program ever gets to this state it's because it's gone through a variety of reviews at -- at each campus level. You know, the campus has to determine is there -- is there a reason to offer this program, it generally starts I'd say at a department level and it works its way up. Nothing gets to the state regulatory body unless it's gone through the campus reviews.
REP. ACKERT: Okay. So each campus has its own specific review though?
JUDITH B. GREIMAN: Yes.
REP. ACKERT: Okay. And relatively do you know the -- I'm not going to look for -- processes. But how quickly do they turn those around? Would you have any information on that?
JUDITH B. GREIMAN: At the campus level I think it -- I think it varies and I think it varies actually in terms of the type of program (inaudible).
REP. ACKERT: Thank you so much.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
SENATOR BYE: Thank you.
Judy, I have a question for you. I guess I don't know why I want to ask this first but I want to know if you're an attorney.
JUDITH B. GREIMAN: Am I an attorney? Yes.
SENATOR BYE: Okay. Good. Good person to ask.
One of the things that occurred to me last night as I was getting ready for this hearing, and I'm not an attorney, though here sometimes we practice without a license, is, you know, this committee has really strong interests in protecting students from what are growing examples or predatory practices. And I know you're interested in that too, I'm not saying you're not. So regulating some of the other colleges in the state seem -- seems very important to us.
Do you see any sort of equal protection issue if we regulated one part of the industry, say for-profit, proprietary schools and didn't regulate other kinds of colleges in that process? It's just a -- something that came to me last evening.
JUDITH B. GREIMAN: I think that the statutes are actually different around proprietary and nonprofit institutions as they stand today, one. I think that we are not saying take us out of the regulatory process, in fact we're quite clearly saying leave us in, change the way that process is done. So you know, I don't really see it as an issue. I know that last year this issue came up in terms of some issue around federal law. We -- we conferred with people in the -- was it the Washington (inaudible) of Education -- and not -- told it was not an issue.
And -- and also we know that in other states, for-profit institutions are regulated in states in which not-for-profit institutions are not regulated.
SENATOR BYE: Right, no, I understand. It was just something, you know, as you think about these issues and that's probably why it came into my head last night because I was remembering last year but didn't even know it.
JUDITH B. GREIMAN: Right. No, I think it's an important question.
SENATOR BYE: I think it's an important question because sometime it's hard to draw the line and I think, you know, regulation in some cases is very, very important to protect (inaudible) some of those issues.
JUDITH B. GREIMAN: I agree.
SENATOR BYE: So I just wanted to ask that question.
Other questions from committee members?
I thank you for your testimony and for the very specific feedback that you gave.
Next is Michelle Kalis from Saint Joseph College in West Hartford.
MICHELLE M. KALIS: Thank you. I think it's good afternoon.
SENATOR BYE: Good afternoon.
MICHELLE M. KALIS: Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you on the approval process for new programs in the state of Connecticut and to support the concept raised by House Bill 5221 and the suggested substitute language provided by Ms. Greiman.
I am new to this state and so I'll be talking about my experiences from 10 years in the state of Massachusetts where I worked for a private college. At that institution we were not required to undergo state approval because of the historic nature of the institution. The institution didn't have to seek approval for new programs or for modifications of programs as long as those programs were covered by the charter of the college.
The institution was able to respond to the need for new programs to meet workforce demands and expand into emerging areas in a competitive and aggressive manner. The college responded by creating new and innovative programs. These programs responded to workforce needs and provided the college with a competitive edge. Examples included accelerated formats where mainly four-year baccalaureate degrees were completed in three years allowing the students to enter the workforce more quickly. We also developed new programs or modified existing programs.
SENATOR BYE: Excuse me -- I just don't want you to think that was your bell, that was just an error.
MICHELLE M. KALIS: I didn't think so either.
SENATOR BYE: Okay. So just, you can complete your testimony.
MICHELLE M. KALIS: I ignored it.
So the three-year degree programs allowed students to enter the workforce more quickly.
We also developed new programs or modified existing programs to include the use of technology in the delivery. These included both online and real time video linking between multiple campuses. These delivery methods improved access to the academic programs for the students.
As the needs of employers changed, we were able to meet the demands by developing programs that increased the level of education of the workforce. For example, we created B.S. programs for fields with high levels of associate or certificate prepared workers. These programs were often the first in the state and the region and this allowed the graduates to have a greater career possibility. Because the institution was well-established, the quality of the programs did not suffer. There was extensive internal and external review for new programs. All of the programs were subject to approval by the regional accrediting body and many of them required specialized accreditation.
The college was also able to acquire programs from other institutions that needed a new institutional sponsor. And the speed with which the college could act was enhanced by the lack of a state approval. Therefore, the lack of the review process allowed the college to have a much more rapidly and aggressive practice of implementing new programs. I believe this created a competitive edge for that institution.
We were able to respond to the workforce needs and be responsive to the needs of students. The quality of the programs in Massachusetts from colleges and universities that are subject to review and those that are not are equal in my estimation. In my experience so far in Connecticut, state approval for new programs and program modifications for private, nonprofit institutions requires different documentation than the regional or specialized accreditors, therefore there is additional time spent on creating these documents and then the approval process itself adds time to the process and may create delays in our ability to initiate new programs. Thank you very much.
SENATOR BYE: Thank you for your testimony.
Questions from committee members?
I -- I have a question just because, you know, you're before us and you've gone through this. Can you talk about at Saint Joseph College when there's a decision to add a program what the process is that goes on in campus -- on campus, what's the process that goes on at the regulatory level? And also just a couple words about how accreditation works, the regional accreditation.
MICHELLE M. KALIS: Okay, sure. It varies depending on the program, but in general, at Saint Joseph College, and it would be very similar at other institutions with some slight variations.
A new program would be proposed at a departmental level, there would be -- we have a -- what we call a pro forma, so it is a document that includes a needs assessment, includes the financial requirements for the new program, it includes the curriculum that would need to be developed, any new faculty that would need to be hired, are there new library resources, are there new technicological resources that would need to be hired -- that would need to be purchased.
So this document would be approved by the department. Generally there would then be a curriculum committee, that is an interdisciplinary committee across the institution, they would approve it, review these documents. After that, at our college it will go to what's called the Faculty Committee of the Whole, so the entire faculty has an opportunity to review that. It would then be reviewed by myself as the provost, it would be reviewed by the president, and then goes to our board of trustees for approval if it's a new program.
Once it's approved by the board then it would go to the state. If it is a program that is of the same level that we already offer, we would submit it to NEASC our regional accreditor, they would generally not review it but would review it on the normal cycle so we get reviewed every 10 years with a five-year interim report. If it is at a new higher level, and often it's not just your first new doctoral program but it's the first few, NEASC would review it at a -- at a more extensive level and come for a site visit frequently.
If there's specialized accreditation, there's a whole other very long process and it varies depending on the body, but it may take a year to two years maybe more for a specialized accreditation to occur. And there's benchmarks along the way, you could admit students at one phase, they come back after you've graduated so that they can sit for a licensing exam. So it's complicated.
SENATOR BYE: Okay. That sounds like quite a thorough, thorough process. Thank you for that.
One other question just in follow-up because you talked to us about what's going on in Massachusetts. So with so many colleges in Massachusetts I can't imagine there isn't someone who has studied the impact of regulation on outcomes for students. Or -- you talked about programs that didn't have regulation having a competitive edge I think is what you said.
MICHELLE M. KALIS: Yes.
SENATOR BYE: So is there any data to support that by not having the regulatory process that those colleges, I don't know, had better graduation rates, better job placements, better, you know, just -- any study that you're aware of or would you mind seeing if there are some that this committee be made aware of them.
MICHELLE M. KALIS: I'm not aware of any. I can look to see if there are any. I -- in my experience the graduation rates and the data from board exams generally is going to be equivalent, you know, know, it's going to again vary by program. But the regional accreditor as well as the national specialized accreditor is also going to be monitoring that.
The competitive edge, I think, we were able at the college I worked for be the first to market for some degree programs. So we were able to attract students, get graduates out there quicker. Sometimes we were able to get donations or grant money because we had this innovative program. So we're -- we had a good story to tell to attract funding. So I do think it's a real -- it was a real benefit.
SENATOR BYE: Great. Thank you very much for coming.
Other questions from committee members?
Thank you so much for your testimony.
MICHELLE M. KALIS: Okay, thank you.
SENATOR BYE: And I think it's the last time maybe, because isn't it going to be University of Saint Joseph?
MICHELLE M. KALIS: It is going to be University of Saint Joseph effective June 8th.
SENATOR BYE: June 8th, well I was so happy to hear you say Saint Joseph College because so many people say Saint Joes or Saint Josephs and they haven't been through the training that we've been through as employees.
MICHELLE M. KALIS: Exactly, very formal.
SENATOR BYE: It just gets to me, so now we won't have that problem anymore. All right, well please send our best to Saint Joseph College.
Next is Dianne Murphy.
Oh, I'm sorry. Dianne can I ask you to hold? Because we had a public official come in. You're okay? Okay. So come on up Dianne and then you'll be followed by Jane Ciarlegio.
Welcome to the committee and thank you for your patience.
DIANNE M. MURPHY: Thank you so much for having me. Good day, Senator Bye, Representative Willis, Senator Boucher and Representative LeGeyt and distinguished members of the Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee. My name is Dianne Murphy and I live in Waterbury. I'm a certified registered nurse anesthetist, an advance practice registered nurse and I hold a master's degree in biological sciences specializing in anesthesia. I'm here today representing Connecticut Association of Nurse Anesthetists. Thank you for the opportunity to testify on House Bill 5221.
On behalf of CANA, I would like to state our regard -- our concerns regarding the passage of the Bill as it is currently written. This legislation seeks to eliminate the requirement that independent colleges or universities must receive approval of the State Board of Education for new or revised academic programs. CANA is deeply concerned that independent colleges or universities will be permitted to develop any kind of program, including health care, without regard for regulations designed to protect public health and safety. We think that this Bill may be a vehicle that a university may use to establish a substandard health care-related program.
Specifically, Quinnipiac University has been seeking to start an anesthesia assistant program. For the last two years, the Departments of Public Health and Higher Education have raised concerns and questions about this program that have yet to be addressed by the university. The application remains incomplete and if this legislation were to become law, Quinnipiac University could simply bypass the review process and open the program. CANA believes that this does not serve the best interest of public health and safety.
We have several concerns with the program, Quinnipiac program. First, under current statute, anesthesia -- assistants do not exist meaning there's no scope of practice to offer guidelines to protect the public. CANA's second serious concern for public safety is that candidates who have absolutely no health care education, training or experience would be allowed to enter an advanced health degree care program. And lastly, the concerns raised by both Departments of Health and Higher Education have yet to be addressed.
If Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee decided to move forward with the legislation, CANA would respectfully request an amendment. This amendment would need to exclude health care-related programs. CANA believes that the current regulatory processes and review by OFAAA exists for the purpose of protecting the public. We are concerned that left unexamined schools may establish substandard academic programs that may not be in the best interest of the citizens of Connecticut.
Once again, thank you for the opportunity to address you on this most important legislation.
SENATOR BYE: Thank you so much for your testimony.
REP. WILLIS: Thank you.
Thank you for coming here before us. I just want to make a comment in terms of your concerns about health care programs. When we drafted this we didn't think to the health care field and subsequently we've been discussing that, leadership of this committee to say it is an issue for us and that if we go forward with this legislation it would have to be amended to address that. So we share your concerns as well.
I have a question for you. Assuming this legislation passed as it is drafted, it's your understanding that health care programs still wouldn't be required to go through the Department of Public Health? Because it would seem to me we're just talking about, you know, an office of higher education and not necessarily exempting it. Is that your understanding and reading of this -- of the proposed Bill?
DIANNE M. MURPHY: I'm not sure I understand your question.
REP. WILLIS: The question is if we pass the bill which we were looking at the Office of Higher Education, whatever it is now. You still have the Department of Public Health, correct? Is there a review process there? Because you state that there is -- for the past two years the Departments of Public Health have raised concerns and questions about this program. If we pass this Bill, they don't have concerns anymore or they couldn't look at this program anymore? That's my question.
DIANNE M. MURPHY: I see, thank you. As I understand it, Education needs to look at it first and Public Health would come in if there were a precedent to practice in the state. So for example if the program were to have a clinical aspect, there really would be no place for them to practice because there's no license for them to practice, there's no basis, there's no scope of practice to offer guidelines as to what it is they could do to work with people.
So it would be a separate entity. So for -- the program could be an academic one but would have no clinical attached to it that would be strictly educational. The Department of Public Health would really only come in if they would want to have those candidates practice on people. Does that make sense to you?
REP. WILLIS: Thank -- I still think we need to figure out how we move forward in that.
Was there a, oh, sorry.
SENATOR BYE: Thank you.
Are there other questions?
I have a question for you. So -- so you've been sitting listening and I know you're not a lawyer but you heard probably the proposal from the independent colleges which said that their request is that the nonprofit colleges and universities would submit paperwork regarding new programs to the Office of Financial Aid and then they would have 30 days to review and would have the authority to pull that application into the regular process.
Do you think that a process like that would have caught this problem that you're talking about with this -- this anesthesiology degree?
DIANNE M. MURPHY: If I may just restate what the independent colleges -- what my impression is that the independent colleges were going for is that they were not -- they were also seeking to amend the legislation not to eliminate the requirement but to keep the requirement and alter the amount of time OFAAA had to look at it. Is that a correct?
SENATOR BYE: I believe so. It's an application and if nothing happens.
DIANNE M. MURPHY: Right. So in -- in a way it would be similar to what already did happen is that an application was filed, the Department looked at it, had discussions about and raised questions.
SENATOR BYE: Okay, thank you. Thank you for that answer.
Thank you for coming today and for your patience.
DIANNE M. MURPHY: Thank you so much.
SENATOR BYE: Okay.
Jane Ciarlegio from the Office of Financial Aid and Academic Affairs. How's that?
The problem with this committee is we have two women about the same age where our memories are not -- the working memory is not just right there.
JANE A. CIARLEGIO: Good afternoon.
SENATOR BYE: Good afternoon.
JANE A. CIARLEGIO: Thank you for the opportunity to -- and actually I was going to submit but because of the time change and -- so I'm not going to read what we have and I'm sorry that I -- we got here as quickly as we could.
I think -- I think it's important to note that last year under reorganization of higher education that this General Assembly made a statement by saying that program approval was an important thing for both the public institutions and the independent institutions. And I think that having said that there is -- there is a slightly different process that both sides now go through.
I think that it's fair to say that there has been some discussion on both sides about that, all the involved institutions, and I think that it's -- it's probably a good thing and it's probably a good thing that you take a look at what's happened, what's changed and what may change in the -- in the future. I think that -- that -- and I wasn't here for everything that was said today, but I think that taking a long, deliberative look at -- at what we're talking about when we change program approval is not a bad idea, but I do think it has to be a long and deliberative look. And by long I don't mean forever, but probably in the interim.
To your point, Representative Willis, you know, the health programs are -- it's very important, but we have to make -- it just can't be left to someone to decide whether or not they're going to seek approval because we've been through the process that actually some institutions have not actually been upfront about what they're seeking approval for. And then we find out that something changes down the road. So having said that, you know, you have my testimony. I'll answer any questions that you might have.
SENATOR BYE: Thank you. I'm going to sort of maybe restate since you're before us a question that Representative Willis asked earlier of CCIC which is, you know, we're looking at what's happening in other states and I think that's always helpful for -- Legislators to do because we don't have to do everything on our own. Maybe there are other practices we can learn from.
And Representative Willis said well that's challenging because New England has a very different landscape. So I'm wondering if you could talk about that. So -- so what do we have to be careful of when we're comparing to other states in Connecticut?
JANE A. CIARLEGIO: Well that is important because, you know, if you compare us to the Midwest when there's three public colleges versus here, it's -- we do have to look at that. And that's why I think that everybody has to come together and make sure that there's a conversation that everybody's sort of well versed and you hear all sides because it is important. We are different, especially in the state of Connecticut, we're a very small state and we have a very large per capita independent colleges. So -- so I think that that's an important -- another important thing that we have to look at when we decide what we -- what we're going to do.
You know, there's -- there's -- I've heard different states being mentioned and that doesn't mean that we have to reinvent the wheel. I think that's important. But, you know, there are -- there are -- I think that -- that we all need to look at the same thing and have a discussion about where we're going to go. Because Connecticut had extraordinarily high standards and I don't think that's a bad thing and I think that the Legislature doesn't think that that's a bad think either because, I mean it's just the example is what happened last year.
SENATOR BYE: Thank you and -- and just -- I know you -- you're probably prepared to talk about the language that was before us, but if I can just ask you. We asked if folks -- the nurse -- anesthetist --
JANE A. CIARLEGIO: That's hard, I know.
SENATOR BYE: -- if they thought a 30-day review to decide whether to kick it into the regular review process or not would have helped in that situation because I think that program is a good example of what -- what we would be worried about giving up regulation. Do you think a proposal, something like, you know, you still maintain the regular regulatory process but you have this 30-day review period which could maybe reduce your workload and then you'd still have the ability to kick it into the -- so I just want your reaction to that piece of legislation.
JANE A. CIARLEGIO: Yes. Yes. I think that that's certainly -- right, I think that's something that's certainly worth discussing. It doesn't necessarily reduce the workload. You have to be careful and let's remember that there are fees associated with, you know, those different kinds of licenses in other states and different, you know, regulatory bodies and we can certainly talk about that.
But what it does mean is that somebody has to turn something around in 30 days. So that it's -- it may reduce the workload but you have to be careful because it doesn't mean there's three less people because -- 30 days is 30 days and you have to make sure that you look -- you look at those.
I would also say that, you know, since this office in July we've really made some great strides and progress in turning programs around so, you know, we are very sensitive to -- to independent institutions and the fact that they want to be able to market and we're appreciative of that. We're not trying to hold that down but we do hold quality, you know, in the highest regard.
SENATOR BYE: Thank you. And I just want to say, Jane, I don't know if the executive director or whatever but I think this conversation -- gives me an opportunity to thank you for the work you had to do on very little notice. This wasn't something that was planned over two years to have this Office of Financial Aid and Academic Affairs.
JANE A. CIARLEGIO: No, it wasn't.
SENATOR BYE: It's something that happened in the appropriations negotiations to assure that folks felt that they had a fair hearing. And it isn't probably anything any of us would have designed with three years' notice.
And so, you know, I guess I really appreciate your willingness, the way you come here today saying we need to look at this, I'm open, so we'll really look to your expertise but also appreciate your willingness to sort of look at it and see if we can make this work as efficiently as possible for the colleges and for you. So thank you.
JANE A. CIARLEGIO: I do appreciate that and I just have to say I -- I do have the best staff and, you know, they -- I'm working them to death, but it really -- I couldn't do it without them because they are great. So I appreciate it.
SENATOR BYE: Okay, well, thank you for that.
REP. LEGEYT: Thank you, Madam Chair.
JANE A. CIARLEGIO: Good afternoon.
REP. LEGEYT: In the Bill, the new language in the Bill refers to nonprofit independent institutions that were first authorized prior to '92, in other words 20 years old. As I think about it, no institution can develop a track record for -- program quality that they propose and through the process of interacting with the state gain a sense of what good benchmarks are for developing programs.
So that -- I guess my question to you is if -- if you're uncomfortable with 20 years, is there some threshold whereby you think an institution would have seasoned itself in its proposals for program review that the process through your department could be reduced somehow?
JANE A. CIARLEGIO: I honestly don't think that, whether it's 20 years or 30 years or 40 years, that's the -- that's the way that the regulatory body should look at programs and quality. I think that in changing economic times colleges are like any other business. We're in the business of protecting the students who are the consumers and -- and things are hard for independent colleges, there's no question about that. So -- so of course they want to gain a competitive edge and there's nothing wrong with that. But I think things like making sure the resources are there for faculty which I have to say in the independent institutions sometimes get mad at us and we say, look, you have to have a -- hire a faculty person. Well things are tight. You know, it's -- it's, you know, it's a fine line, make sure labs are in place. Well, you know, they may be, you know, designed and almost implemented but there won't be a graduating class that takes advantage of it. I mean those are the kinds of things that we look at. You know, we are not trying to slow anybody down and -- and I think that's where the tug is, you know, we're regulators so people get annoyed, they want to do what they want to do and they think they know best and I can appreciate that. But it's that third party, it's the student, I mean they -- tuition, you know, in this state is hundreds of millions of dollars that people, you know, spend every year.
So that's really all we're trying to do is make sure that the quality -- and sometimes it helps the institutions to actually go back to their leadership and say, you know what, we need this, you know. Deans love to do that.
REP. LEGEYT: Thank you for that answer. I -- I completely get that and understand. I read your testimony, we -- we got it a few minutes ago and I managed to look through a fair amount of it and I came to a new understanding of what your office does in that regard.
By the same token, you have the perspective from doing this kind of work to understand when there's a way to shorten the review process and if it has to do with -- if it doesn't have to do with, you know, the -- the number of years that some institution has been involved with state approvals and the experience that they've gained, I can understand that too. But there much be ways that it can be shortened up for institutions that have a track record of quality proposals for new programming. Would you care to comment?
JANE A. CIARLEGIO: Well, I think that that's -- I think that is worth discussions, I absolutely do. But I think that -- that the partners need to be at the table and do it in a -- in a deliberative fashion so that everybody really does understand what's going -- what's happened and what's going to happen, that's all. I mean, I think it's certainly worth discussing.
REP. LEGEYT: Thank you.
SENATOR BYE: Representative Willis.
REP. WILLIS: Thank you.
Thank you, Jane.
I just -- first just comment that, you know, I would be opposed to anything to removed oversight on -- over the nonprofits. Just -- I think you know in previous discussions with you I feel pretty strongly about that and there's been some pretty questionable goings ons over the many years that I've been -- been on this committee. So that's an oversight that if we move forward with this that we would want to make sure that that's changed.
I wanted, you know,, you talked about the student protection and I go banc to the health care piece and, you know, we're also protecting people who would be treated by -- I mean somebody administering anesthesia to you, you really want to make sure that they've been trained well to say the least. And I'm going to ask you the question that I asked the nurse representative from the Connecticut Association of Nurse Anesthetists. I'm not sure how you -- you interface with the Department of Public Health on these programs in terms of approval because -- because obviously this is highly technical and you're looking at programs. How do they work with you?
JANE A. CIARLEGIO: Okay. So just under the current Bill that's proposed, we would not see that, so that program would be deemed approved. What would happen in that case would -- some student who graduated would not be able to, whether they may or may not have known that, get a license in the state of Connecticut. And this issue has been, for the last probably five or six years it's -- it's in the health field, dental assistants, dental hygienists, being able to expand their scope of practice, it's all kind of interrelated. And so what the Health Department, this -- that agency and the Department of Higher Education, we sort of have this understanding that when we get a program that's in the health field, we make sure we talk to them, make sure that it's a field that will -- that will have a license and so we -- we interface with them all the time on the health field. And that's when something will come up.
I think they -- also last year passed the scope of practice but it was not mandatory and there's a whole -- there's a whole process that the Health Department goes through and I honestly, I'm not really up on that but I do remember. But I do -- remember it was permissive, it was not mandatory. So we just -- we as sister agencies have continual conversations about, you know, the health field and new programs.
REP. WILLIS: Thank you.
Any further questions or comments from members of the committee?
Thank you, Jane, and we'll -- we'll be back in touch on looking at ways to make this proposal better and work for -- to the benefit of students and also the schools and make sure that there isn't unnecessary red tape and that we can have a quick turnaround on programs, particularly those that address workforce needs that are out there right now.
So thank you.
JANE A. CIARLEGIO: Okay.
SENATOR BYE: Next on our list is Todd Andrews and Janet Gefford? It looks like you've signed up together. Is that how you'd like to give your testimony? Okay.
TODD ANDREWS: Yes, thank you.
SENATOR BYE: You can just pull another chair up next to him, that's fine. Welcome.
TODD ANDREWS: Good afternoon and thank you for the opportunity to -- to testify. I'm Todd Andrews, vice president of college relations. Joining me here is Janet Gefford, vice president of institutional effectiveness who's responsible for overseeing our accreditation process as well as our program development and approvals.
We are submitting testimony regarding House Bill 5221, AN ACT CONCERNING CHANGES TO PROGRAM APPROVAL FOR COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES. We want to be clear that we fully support the concept raised by this legislation, but this legislation specifically excludes Goodwin College from the intent of such legislation for perpetuity.
Specifically, the legislation states that new and revised programs posed by nonprofit institutions of higher ed first authorized prior to the section, prior to July 1st of 1992 shall not be subject to approval by the State Board of Ed. To our knowledge this date-specific language would require only one existing nonprofit institution, Goodwin College, to have their programs continue to be approved by the state forever.
Goodwin College was authorized in 2000 by the State Legislature, the governor and the State Board of Ed and it's a fully accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, or NEASC. MEASC is the accrediting body for 39 colleges and universities in the state of Connecticut. We have undergone the same rigorous evaluation process of all of these public and private nonprofit institutions in gaining its accreditation status in 2004. And we were most recently re-reviewed by NEASC in 2010 for which our continued accredited status has been granted and our next review is scheduled for 2020.
Accreditation status means that students and the public can expect that a school or program lives up to its promises. And institutional program that has successfully completed an accredited review has in place the needed instructional student support and other services to assist students to achieve their educational goals. We fully support the concept of reducing regulation of independent nonprofit institutions and we are in support of the testimony submitted my Ms. Greiman on behalf of the independent colleges for which we are members.
Since 2003, Goodwin College has brought 13 new and revised programs to the state's academic committee on accreditation for review, all of which have received approvals. In addition, we've brought two substantive changes, both approved by NEASC and the State Board in the past few years. If this bill is passes as written, Goodwin College will be required to bring its programs before the state forever and this provision would provide a permanent unfair restraint on Goodwin College, one that is not required of any other existing independent institution as we develop new and revised programs in response to critical workforce needs of our employers and the residents of the state.
We would certainly support this Bill if it was amended to remove the prior to July 1st, 1992 and the legislation be drafted as previously recommended by Ms. Greiman for existing nonprofit colleges and universities what have been accredited by a regional accrediting agency would submit paperwork regarding the programs to OFAAA and that OFAAA would them have 30 days to review. All others would be deemed approved and would go through no formal approval process.
Based on others' testimony here and the questions I'd also like to offer that. Certainly Goodwin College has as one of the newest colleges in this state has to develop a track record and we're totally prepared and understand the reasoning why the state will want to continue to review a new college. But what is the limit of that? When do we continue to prove ourselves? When are we off of -- if you look at this as a probationary period, to approve our programs?
So with that, I entertain any questions (inaudible) and thank you.
SENATOR BYE: Thank you.
I'm very sympathetic to your point of view so I'll just say that. I certainly understand it and it does seem targeted and so.
TODD ANDREWS: Thank you.
SENATOR BYE: I appreciate you coming and telling us. There may be others who have questions.
Okay. Thank you. I'm glad you came. Don't take the lack of questions as a bad thing, it's more a sense of agreement.
TODD ANDREWS: Thank you.
REP. WILLIS: Professor Steven Cohen, please, from the Four Cs.
Welcome, nice to see you again.
STEVEN COHEN: It's a pleasure, Chair Willis and other members of the committee. I'm Steven Cohen, I'm here in my capacity as president of the Congress of Connecticut Community Colleges. You don't have any written testimony from me because I didn't plan on testifying today and in fact I really am just here to ask a question of you given that you are the legislative experts.
And the only laws that I really have expertise regarding are Murphy's law and the Law of Unintended Consequences. So with the latter in mind, I want to ask you about Senate Bill 241 THE ACT ALLOWING ADJUNCT FACULTY MEMBERS OF THE REGIONAL COMMUNITY-TECHNICAL COLLEGE SYSTEM TO WAIVE MEMBERSHIP IN A STATE RETIREMENT PLAN.
The Four Cs represents 800 full-time faculty members and 2,000 adjunct faculty members and we have contract language that guarantees qualified adjuncts the ability to be interviewed for available full-time openings. And in fact we do hire a lot of adjuncts into full-time positions. And what those adjuncts find is that the pension choice they make as an adjunct follows them when they become a full-timer if in fact they are hired into a full-time position be what they're told is that pension choices are irrevocable and that's the language in the bill as well.
So my question for you is given that the language has been crafted to indicate that this irrevocability is focused on part-time employment, what would happen to that part-timer who has waived participation in a pension plan if that person is subsequently hired full-time? Would that waiver follow the person? And would they be ineligible to participate in the pension plan at that point as well?
And I suppose I should also point out that we do have lots of folks, as I'm sure you know, who come to us to teach full-time after working for us not only as part-timers but after having careers in business and law and criminal justice and other professions. They don't come as 20- or 30-somethings out of grad school, they come as 50-somethings to join us a full-timers so.
REP. WILLIS: I don't have that answer for you. The only thing I can point you to is UConn and the state universities have this option and so the question is how does it work for them because obviously at University of Connecticut and at the State University System this must be something that happens regularly for them as well. So I think this committee should look at that, it's a good point that you raised, but there must be some sort of provision for making that happen, otherwise I'm sure we would have heard from them.
STEVEN COHEN: My only concern is I'm guessing that we in the community colleges hire more of our part-timers into full-time positions than does the CSU or UConn. That would be my guess so.
REP. WILLIS: Well, I could argue that we don't do it enough.
STEVEN COHEN: Well, I'm not disagreeing with you, but certainly we do this --
REP. WILLIS: We need more full-time faculty at our community colleges. It's way too low at this point in time. So we'll look into it. Thank you for raising it and sorry we couldn't answer that specific question but I saw a lot of nodding heads not saying -- don't have a clue.
STEVEN COHEN: I appreciate your looking into it.
REP. WILLIS: Thanks, take care.
That is the last person who signed up to testify. I will ask that anyone who did not sign up but would like to testify, please step forward.
Once again, if there's anyone out there that didn't have an opportunity to sign up and would like to testify, you may do so now.
I'll ask it one more time and hearing no, or seeing no response, I will say that this -- public hearing is now closed. Thank you very much.