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Ragan: Education budget boosts key job creation efforts

(DES MOINES) On Monday, May 7, the Senate voted 28-19 and the Iowa House voted 92-5 for a bipartisan, compromise education budget that includes key job creation measures strongly supported by State Senator Amanda Ragan of Mason City. The legislation now goes to Governor Branstad for his signature.

“When Iowa employers can’t find the workers they need, they have three bad choices: lose business to competitors, hire out-of-state, or move out of Iowa,” said Ragan. “We’ve voted to invest in North Iowa Area Community College and other community colleges so they can help Iowans fill those skilled job shortages.”

Under Senate File 2321, investment in workforce training will increase to $8 million next year, a hike of 60 percent. The new GAP Tuition Fund, which helps Iowans earn certificates in welding, information technology and other shortage areas, will begin with a $2 million investment. The Accelerated Career Education (ACE) program will receive $6 million. General community college funding will increase by $13 million and the institutions will receive an additional $5 million for maintenance.

“Helping Iowans become more productive, more competitive workers is a great way to grow our economy and create new jobs in our state,” said Ragan. “Reaching the right compromise took some time but improving our economy and helping Iowans improve themselves was certainly worth it. “

The compromise budget also increases funding for Iowa’s public universities by $23 million, an amount which the Board of Regents has said will help prevent future tuition increases. Tuition grants for private colleges were increased by 4.6 percent and funds for the National Guard tuition program were increased by 7 percent.

“By keeping tuition costs down at our public universities and private colleges, we increase educational opportunity and make it possible for Iowa’s families to send their kids to Iowa’s great colleges and universities,” said Ragan.

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