Community College cuts hurt job creation, reduce opportunities

Ragan Report: Senate File 2117 calls for im-mediately cutting $5.4 million from Iowa's community colleg-es, when the budget year is more than half over.

What's the reason busi-nesses aren't moving to Iowa or expanding in our communi-ties? We don't have enough skilled workers to do the jobs they need to fill.

Forcing community colleges to drop classes, cut programs, increase tuition and lay off staff will make creating better-paying jobs and boosting eco-nomic growth even more diffi-cult.

North Iowa Area Communi-ty College, Hawkeye Commu-nity College and Iowa Valley Community College are in-volved in so much that is go-ing right in our economy. The campuses, the teachers and especially the students generate and attract economic activity in communities, large and small. We must support them and invest in them, not cut their resources.

Under the Senate proposal, Hawkeye Community College will have to cut $366,934 from their budget in the next few months. That works out to $91,734 per month from March through the end of the fiscal year on June 30. Iowa Valley Community College will need to cut $241,629, or $60,407 per month. North Iowa Area Community College must cut $272,387, or $68,097 per month. It's esti-mated that tuition would have to go up 5-10 percent to make up the difference.

These cuts put people's lives and careers-our whole economy-on hold. For exam-ple:

o Community colleges won't be able to implement regional Career & Technical Education Centers-joint projects with K-12 schools-throughout the state.

o The Governor just signed into law SF 512, addressing water quality. Community col-leges were set to train Iowans for work in this field, but these cuts will prevent them from developing their water-quality programs.

Sen. Amanda Ragan (D-Mason City) serves Franklin, Butler and Cerro Gordo counties in Senate District 27. She can be reached at 515-281-3371 or 641-424-0874. Email her at aman-da.ragan@legis.iowa.gov.