2020-5-29

ATTORNEY GENERAL HERRING URGES CONGRESS TO FUND EXPANDED ACCESS TO BROADBAND

~ Herring joins bipartisan coalition of 39 attorneys general in urging Congress to ensure critical broadband access for those studying, working, and seeking healthcare from home during COVID-19 ~

RICHMOND (May 22, 2020) – Attorney General Mark R. Herring has joined a bipartisan coalition of 39 attorneys general in urging Congress to help ensure that all Americans have the home internet connectivity necessary to participate in telemedicine, teleschooling, and telework as part of any additional legislation that provides relief and recovery resources related to addressing the COVID-19 pandemic. Internet access has become critical for basic needs over the past few weeks while millions of Virginians and Americans have been working, learning, socializing and seeking healthcare from home.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has forced Virginians to move school, work, healthcare and just about everything else online and has highlighted how desperately we need a national broadband plan during this crisis,” said Attorney General Herring. “Many telecom companies have stepped up to provide internet access but that is not a sustainable answer. Congress should include a national broadband plan in any future relief packages to make sure that all communities, especially those in more rural or underserved areas, have access to the internet resources they need.”

In the letter, Attorney General Herring and his colleagues laud independent efforts of various companies to increase access by waiving late fees or even providing free or discounted access to students and medical providers, while acknowledging that such efforts are not sustainable. Ultimately, the attorneys general argue that there must be a national solution to get internet access to homes across the country, especially in more rural areas.

Unless Congress acts quickly, disparities in access to home internet connectivity will exacerbate existing gaps in educational and health outcomes along lines of geography, economic resources, and race.

In a letter sent to Congressional leaders, the attorneys general urge Congress to:

  • Provide state, territorial, and local governments with adequate funding expressly dedicated to ensuring that all students and patients, especially senior citizens who are at risk, have adequate internet-enabled technology to participate equally in online learning and telemedicine.
  • Increase funding to the U.S. Federal Communication Commission Universal Service Fund, which provides vital funding to rural and low-income populations, healthcare providers, and educators with the goal of bridging the digital divide.

With public health experts warning that a second wave of coronavirus infections may require teleschooling and telemedicine to continue for millions of Americans throughout 2020, it is critical that Congress act now to help ensure that all Americans have the home internet connectivity they need to access educational opportunities, healthcare, and to earn a livelihood.

Joining Attorney General Herring in sending today’s letter are the attorneys general of Colorado, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, Alaska, American Samoa, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Guam Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

State Board Holds the Line on Community College Tuition and Fees for Fall 2020

RICHMOND —The State Board for Community Colleges, by a unanimous vote, elected to maintain the current in-state tuition and mandatory fees for Fall 2020. The Board’s decision means tuition will remain at today’s rate of $154 per credit hour – keeping community college tuition and mandatory fees at approximately one-third of the comparable costs of attending Virginia’s public four-year universities. This marks the second year in a row that the Board has voted to hold tuition and fees steady for the coming fall.

“We are doing everything we can to be an affordable, accessible resource for Virginians. Some people find themselves unexpectedly out of work. Others are looking for safer, convenient options to pursue their college aspirations. We want to be there for them,” said Glenn DuBois, chancellor of Virginia’s Community Colleges. “We’re asking the Board to hold the line on tuition and fees for the fall. We’d like to maintain that rate beyond the fall, if the state funding exists to help us do that responsibly.”

Further, the State Board maintained the existing tuition rate for out-of-state students, which is $354.10 per credit hour.

Tuition differentials

For the second year in a row, there were no increases to the tuition differential rates charged at eight of Virginia’s 23 community colleges (Germanna, John Tyler, Northern Virginia, Piedmont Virginia, Reynolds, Tidewater, Thomas Nelson, and Virginia Western). Tuition differential rates allow colleges to address unique and specific institutional priorities.

 

SBA and Treasury Department Announce $10 Billion for CDFIs to Participate in the Paycheck Protection Program

WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Small Business Administration, in consultation with the U.S. Treasury Department, announced $10 billion of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Round 2 funding will be lent exclusively by Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs). CDFIs expand economic opportunity in low-income communities by providing financial products and services for residents and local businesses. These dedicated funds ensure PPP funds reach all communities in need of relief during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The forgivable loan program, PPP, is dedicated to providing emergency capital to sustain our nation’s small businesses, the drivers of our economy, and retain their employees– a key priority for President Trump,” said SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza. “CDFIs provide critically important capital and technical assistance to small businesses from rural, minority and other underserved communities, especially during this economically challenging time.”

“The PPP has helped over 50 million American workers stay connected to their jobs and over 4 million small businesses get much-needed relief,” said Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin.  “We have received bipartisan support for dedicating these funds for CDFIs to ensure that traditionally underserved communities have every opportunity to emerge from the pandemic stronger than before.”

The additional $10 billion in Round 2, combined with CDFI approvals of $3.8 billion in Round 1, ensures entrepreneurs and small business owners in all communities have easy access to the financial system, and receive much-needed capital to maintain their workforces.

“Providing American businesses with access to federally-guaranteed capital ensures underserved communities are not left out of our COVID-19 recovery, said SBA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Steve Bulger. No longer will small business owners in underserved communities just hear about the money. With today’s action, more minority-owned small businesses will be able to access it to survive, thrive and support our economy.”

The PPP was created by the Coronavirus, Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) and provides forgivable loans to small businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic to keep their employees on the payroll. To date, more than 4.4 million loans have been approved for over $510 billion for small businesses across America. The SBA and the Treasury Department remain committed to ensuring eligible small businesses have the resources they need to get through this time.

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