Policy / Advocates Show Widespread Support for New Bills to Strategically Reform Community College Finance System

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Advocates Show Widespread Support for New Bills to Strategically Reform Community College Finance System

Today, the Commit Partnership, the Texas Association of Community Colleges, the Texas Business Leadership Council, and the Texas Community College Student Advisory Council signaled their support for House Bill 8 and Senate Bill 2539, new legislation filed by Texas State Representative Gary VanDeaver (R-New Boston), Chair of the House Appropriations Article III Subcommittee, and Texas State Senator Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe), Chair of the Senate Education Committee. This new legislation, based on the final recommendations of the Texas Commission on Community College Finance, will bolster community colleges as Texas faces a growing skilled workforce shortage with nearly one million job openings unfilled as of November 2022.

“House Bill 8 and Senate Bill 2539 showcase a promising step forward for Texas students, community colleges, and our business community,” said Commit Partnership CEO and Founder Todd Williams. “Community colleges are our best shot at addressing our state’s skilled workforce shortage that is the result of only 1 in 4 Texans having any kind of postsecondary degree by the age of 24. I was proud to serve on the Texas Commission on Community College Finance alongside Rep. VanDeaver, as well as Senate Education Chair Brandon Creighton, and am grateful for their legislative leadership on this issue. I look forward to continued discussions at the Legislature to ensure the entirety of the Commission’s goals are met.”

“The recommendations from the Texas Commission on Community College Finance that are now articulated in House Bill 8 and Senate Bill 2539 are transformational for our state’s community colleges. This is a historic opportunity to fundamentally change the way all community colleges across Texas are funded,” said Texas Association of Community Colleges President and CEO Ray Martinez III. “If enacted, the changes will align our incentives with the needs of our workforce, put our dual credit students on a pathway toward a meaningful credential, and help us to meet the important goals of our statewide higher education plan, Building a Talent Strong Texas.”

“By 2030, 62 percent of all Texas jobs will require a postsecondary credential – but Texas businesses are already struggling to find qualified workers,” said Texas Business Leadership Council President Justin Yancy. “This new legislation will help address the skilled workforce shortage, support our businesses, and ensure more Texans have the opportunity to earn a self-sustaining wage. Thank you Rep. VanDeaver and Sen. Creighton for prioritizing this critical issue.”

“We are pleased that lawmakers have filed such strong bills reflecting the recommendations of students to invest in our success and the community colleges that serve us,” said Angel García Donjuán, a former Dallas College student and member of the Texas Community College Student Advisory Council. “If passed, these solutions will help move Texas toward a future in which students in every community can access the opportunities we need to provide for our families and contribute our talents to a strong workforce. We encourage lawmakers to ensure the bills' final form maintains student-focused policies, like dual credit scholarships and formula weights for adult learners and students from low-income backgrounds, so that we and our peers can achieve our full potential.”

This vital legislation, stemming from the Commission and dedicated support from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, will:

  1. Ensure community colleges prioritize programs that meet their regional workforce needs so that Texas businesses will have access to a regionally aligned, skilled workforce
  2. Ensure that all Texans have an equal opportunity to participate in our state’s prosperity via access to an affordable, high-quality education
  3. Ensure that state funds are spent efficiently and effectively by updating an outdated finance model with one focused on student performance outcomes
  4. Resolve the underlying structural flaws of our current community college finance system

This legislation also has the support of the Education Trust, Greater Houston Partnership, Dallas Regional Chamber, Longview Chamber, Educate Texas, Philanthropy Advocates, the Texas Association of Businesses, and E3 Alliance.

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