Former state Rep. Scotty Campbell, R-Mountain City, won the chance to appear with Tons of Funk and the Funkadactyls at a World Wrestling Entertainment event through an online charity auction to benefit victims of Hurricane Sandy. Here’s the video of his debut dancing performance last night. (youtube link HERE.)
Gov. Bill Haslam says that changing the direction of higher education is “more than a battleship,” but that he eventually expects to change its governing structure, according to Hank Hayes report on a meeting with members of the Kingsport Times-News Editorial Board.
An excerpt: “It’s such an insular world. It’s the most insular world I’ve ever seen,” Haslam, a Republican, said of higher education.
After a top-to-bottom review last year, Haslam didn’t push for change in the state’s higher education governing structure.
That governing structure features two big boards — the Tennessee Board of Regents and the University of Tennessee Board of Trustees — in addition to the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, the state’s coordinating agency for higher education.
Haslam admitted he hasn’t figured out what to do with the governing structure.
“There’s as many answers as there are states as to how it should be set up,” he said. “At the end of the day, I don’t think governance structure is our primary issue … (but) I think we address governance structure before we leave here. At the end of the day, it matters.”
In the meantime, Haslam said his administration is “hacking away” at other pieces of higher education in an attempt to entice Tennesseans to get more college diplomas.
His budget proposal calls for a partnership with Western Governors University to offer online courses with a goal of increasing the percentage of Tennesseans with a post-secondary credential from 32 percent to 55 percent by 2025.
Haslam has proposed starting a $35 million endowment to provide scholarships to students from low-income families through the Tennessee Student Assistance Corp.
He has also appointed Knoxville businessman Randy Boyd to be the head of an ongoing higher education review effort.
One part of that effort, said Haslam, is expanding college affordability.
“I would love for a middle-income family to send a kid to a two-year program for free,” Haslam said. “We don’t think we’re all that far from coming up with a formula for making that happen.”
State government, Haslam pointed out, is now funding higher education based on college completion instead of enrollment. It’s all part of a work force development strategy.
“We need more engineer majors. We need more welders. We need more computer science majors. You will see us investing in those buildings and places that increase capacity,” Haslam said.
But Haslam indicated the biggest looming issue is how the state will react to the federal health care reform law, also known as the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
When he submitted his budget proposal to lawmakers, Haslam deferred one ACA decision — whether Tennessee should expand its Medicaid system.
“We could decide to expand tomorrow, or we could expand it five years from now,” Haslam said of the decision.
ACA’s changing Medicaid eligibility requirements, however, will bring more people into the program and cost the state $150 million to $200 million even without expansion, Haslam said.