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The legislative priorities of Iowa’s community colleges

Cindy SchulteBy Cindy Schulte

After the Iowa Legislature adjourns, Iowa’s Community College Presidents and Trustees review the activity of the past session and look to the future to identify issues that impact the statewide system before they prepare for the upcoming session. The list of legislative priorities are established based on the critical needs of the statewide system and a resolution is adopted at the annual meeting of the Iowa Association of Community College Trustees (IACCT).

During the interim, all of the community colleges schedule meetings with their area legislators and the Governor’s Office to review the list of the statewide legislative priorities. The process of establishing the IACCT legislative priorities has become a consistent and effective way for Iowa’s Community Colleges to establish the “one voice” and unified message used for statewide advocacy. The FY 2019 list of IACCT legislative priorities include:

Increase State General Aid (SGA) at the same rate of growth as the State General Fund revenue

Iowa’s Community College students remain the least state supported of all of Iowa’s higher education system based on information provided by the Legislative Services Agency (LSA) FY 2018 state funding per pupil estimation. According to the LSA, Iowa’s Community Colleges receive an estimated $2,607 per pupil funding, in comparison to, $4,204 in state funding per pupil appropriated for students enrolled at the Private Colleges and $10,386 in state per pupil funding appropriated for students enrolled at the Regents Universities. (The estimation does not include the FY 2018 appropriation cuts.)

Support the current commitment and local decision-making for the Iowa Skilled Worker and Job Creation Fund and New Jobs Training programs

In 2013, the Iowa Legislature created the Iowa Skilled Worker and Job Creation Fund program for Iowa’s Community Colleges to provide critical support for work-based learning experiences for eligible students and support for workforce training for adult literacy, English language learning, job retraining, and needs-based tuition purposes. In FY 2017, Iowa’s Community Colleges served 149,042 individuals at 6,341 businesses who participated in the Iowa Skilled Worker and Job Creation Fund training program.

Provide elected Community College Boards the governance flexibility to access local funding at their discretion to meet the community needs 

For Iowa’s Community Colleges to remain a leader in providing skilled worker training, Community College Boards need governance flexibility to access local support in their discretion to meet community and business/industry worker training and economic development needs.

Cindy Schulte is Director of Governmental Affairs for Iowa Valley Community College District.

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