On Tuesday, the House passed Senate Bill 12 by a vote of 40-0-1. This bill, sponsored by House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst and Senator Nicole Poore, would expand Delaware’s landmark Student Excellence Equals Degree (SEED) program to help fortify Delaware’s workforce and allow Delawareans of all backgrounds to earn profitable skills and certifications without the financial strain of college debt.
Senate Bill 12, known as SEED+, will expand the SEED scholarship program to include adults and others previously excluded. The expansion will allow residents of all ages to develop the skills necessary to enter high-paying, in-demand fields through Delaware Tech’s non-credit workforce development programs and its academic credential courses.
Since 2005, the SEED program has allowed nearly 13,000 Delaware high school graduates to earn free college credits. SB 12 is specifically geared toward assisting adult workers with little or no previous higher education experience as they navigate the post COVID economy.
These workers have disproportionately borne the brunt pandemic, with the national unemployment rate for people with a high school diploma or less jumping more than 12 percentage points from February to May 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This group also exited the labor force at three times the rate as those with a bachelor’s degree.
|Senate Bill 12 Sponsors||Yes Votes||No Votes|
|Poore, Hansen, Townsend, Ennis, Gay, Lawson, Lockman, Mantzavinos, S. McBride, Paradee, Pettyjohn, Pinkney, Sokola, Sturgeon, Walsh, Wilson||Passed Senate 17-4. Brown Ennis Gay Hansen Lockman Lopez Mantzavinos Paradee Pettyjohn Pinkney Poore S.McBride Sokola Sturgeon Townsend Walsh Wilson||Bonini Hocker Lawson Richardson|
|Longhurst, Lambert, Mitchell, Osienski, K.Williams, Bush, Cooke, Dukes, Griffith, Heffernan, K.Johnson, Minor-Brown, S.Moore, Morrison, Ramone, Shupe, Wilson-Anton||Passed House 40-0-1. Baumbach Bennett Bentz Bolden Bush Carson Chukwuocha Cooke Dorsey-Walker Griffith Heffernan K.Johnson K.Williams Kowalko Lambert Longhurst Lynn Matthews Minor-Brown Mitchell Morrison Osienski S.Moore Schwartzkopf Wilson-Anton Briggs King Collins D.Short Dukes Gray Hensley M.Smith Morris Postles Ramone Shupe Smyk Spiegelman Vanderwende Yearick||Brady (Absent)|
|Current Status —||Sent to Governor Carney|
“Higher education in any form has been the pathway to success and prosperity for generations,” said Rep. Longhurst, D-Bear. “But when you are already financially strained, that education becomes all-but unattainable. SEED+ will help remove the hurdles that prevent so many of our neighbors from seeking a better life for themselves and their families.”
Senator Nicole Poore: “When the pandemic struck, thousands of working Delawareans were forced out of work and many are still struggling to put food on the table. By sending Senate Bill 12 to Governor John Carney today, the General Assembly has made good on a promise to help give working families an opportunity for a new career in a high-demand field that will provide better pay and better job security in future economic downturns. Known as SEED+, the legislation will help adults seeking higher-paying careers develop new skills through Delaware Technical Community College’s non-credit workforce development programs or its academic credential courses, nearly all of which are transferable to the state’s four-year colleges and universities. I sponsored SEED+ specifically to assist adult workers with little or no previous higher education experience who were hit hardest by the pandemic. I want to thank every legislator in the House and the Senate who voted in solidarity with Delaware workers and in support of an economic recovery that’s built to last.”