More than 200 students and faculty lobbied Tuesday for an increase in community college funding in the 2014-15 state budget.
The Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges wants a $12 million increase for the 14 community colleges throughout the commonwealth.
Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa (D - Allegheny), who is also a member of the Community College of Allegheny County’s Board of Trustees, joined them at the State Capitol rally.
“The governor’s office does not recommend an increase in education funding for higher Ed becomes problematic,” Costa said. “And we feel that at the local level, which forces us to do things like increase tuition and fees to be able to provide the high quality services that we want to provide to our students.”
Gov. Tom Corbett's budget calls for $1.6 billion for higher education including $212 million for community colleges. That's a fourth straight year of flat funding for community colleges.
“We’re below where we were in 2008 so that’s six years not that we’ve had stale and stagnant funding,” Costa said. “On the capitol’s side, we’re not unable to make the investments in a state of the art equipment that we need to train our students whether they be in the arts and the sciences or wherever they might be.”
According to Costa, community colleges provided job-training programs for more than 30,000 employees from more than 1,100 companies in the 2012-13 school year.
Costa said community college helps people in transition.
“When folks are struggling, when unemployment is high, people looking for jobs, it’s the programs at community colleges that provide the type of support, provide the type of training, that allows folks to either make the shift from their former occupation to another, and it’s high quality jobs that are in demand in this commonwealth.”
The 14 community colleges throughout the state have classes in more than 100 locations and employ about 28,000 people statewide.