The Iowa Senate has voted to send $23 million more state tax dollars to the state’s community colleges for job training programs. Senator Brian Schoenjahn, a Democrat from Arlington, says part of the money will be used to help some Iowans get their G.E.D.
“Nearly 10 percent of Iowa’s working-age adults do not have a high school diploma,” Schoenjahn said, “so when it comes to growing the economy, the skills gap is Iowa’s biggest problem.”
A bipartisan group of 31 senators voted for the bill, but 19 Republicans — including Senator Jack Whitver of Ankeny — voted against it.
“We would like to see a more responsible budget before we sign on to this particular proposal,” Whitver said. “I think the concept is o.k. The money is just too much at this point.”
Senator Rita Hart, a Democrat from Wheatland who voted for the bill, said community colleges help Iowans “redefine themselves” by improving their job skills.
“What local businesspeople tell me is that what was good enough in the past is not good enough now,” Hart said. “Getting enough workers with the right skills is a major challenge for many of my district’s local employers.”
The Senate’s proposal to boost job training programs at the community colleges now goes to the House for consideration.
In another statehouse development Monday, key legislators said they aim to have a 10-member conference committee of House and Senate members assembled by week’s end to try to craft a compromise on education reform.