“The money was appropriated this year for the sole purpose of helping to establish the college. I am at a loss as to why the administration is interpreting the law in such a way as to deny the board of trustees the money they need to get this important initiative off the ground,” Causer said. “Under the law, the board has just one year to put together a comprehensive plan to outline the formation and operation of the college. Assembling such a plan will require a great deal of time and expertise and would be extremely difficult to accomplish without the state funding promised to them.”
Act 126 of 2014 authorized the creation of the community college and was based on legislation sponsored by Causer in the House and by Sen. Joe Scarnati (R-Brockway) in the Senate. The lawmakers introduced the legislation in response to a 2011 study by the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee, which verified the lack of community college services in 25 of the state’s 26 rural counties. The study noted that nearly every other state in the nation provides statewide coverage by community colleges and acknowledged the vital role community colleges play in helping to meet the demand for increasing and ever-changing workforce skills. It also pointed out that rural youth who choose to enroll in one of the state’s 14 community colleges today pay at least twice as much in tuition as those who live within a school district with a public community college. Those higher tuition rates, plus greater travel distances, often make community college unaffordable to these students.
“This college is vital to the future of our region and the Commonwealth as a whole,” said Causer. “It is a good investment in our collective future and in the futures of students throughout the nine-county area it will serve. The funding for it should be released now.”