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by Liz Mathis State Senator · April 13th, 2017

The Branstad-Reynolds Administration last week called for another $173 million in cuts to the budget for next year. Republicans in the majority are expected to propose even more cuts in the next few days. This comes on the heels of major, mid-year budget cuts earlier this session.

I will not support unnecessary cuts that threaten the quality of higher education and job training.

Cutting the very investments that create a high-skill, high-wage economy is the worst thing we could do when the #1 problem facing Iowa businesses is a critical shortage of skilled and qualified workers.

Programs at our community colleges educate and train Iowans for local job openings, provide adult basic education, and partner with K-12 schools in work-based learning for students.

The newest budget from the Branstad-Reynolds Administration includes more than $10 million in cuts to workforce training. That represents a 50-percent reduction, which is likely to prevent more than 5,000 Iowans from earning a credential or achieving literacy.

Worker training programs are not the only thing on the chopping block. The Branstad-Reynolds Administration has proposed cutting $6 million in basic state aid to community colleges. Their mid-year reduction for community colleges was $4.75 million. They now want to cut another $1.3 million for next year, which will undoubtedly increase tuition and student debt.

This is unfortunate because 90 percent of community college graduates stay in Iowa to live, work, raise a family-and grow our economy.

Iowa's public universities face $14.1 million in cuts next year and that means tuition increases could be devastating at a time when student aid is declining. It means students must take on more debt to earn a degree-or be forced out of a college entirely.

We know that 68 percent of all Iowa jobs will require education and training beyond high school by 2025. Cutting already inadequate job training and education funding is not the way to strengthen our economy and Iowa's working families.

Do you have questions about the state's budget? Be sure to attend the next League of Women Voters Forum, Saturday, April 15, from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. at Mercy Medical Center, Cedar Rapids.

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