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Chronicle Weekly Question for your Iowa Legislators

January 16, 2013
Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

During the 2013 Iowa Legislative session, The Chronicle and News-Herald will submit questions to the Tama County delegation:

State Senator Steve Sodders (D-State Center) and State representative Dean Fisher (R-Garwin.)

If you have a question you would like considered for submission, send it to the newspapers.

Article Photos

State Representative Dean Fisher (R-Garwin)
State Senator Steve Sodders (D-State Center)

WEEK ONE: "At the October candidate forum at Marshalltown Community College and during a recent meeting I had with Chancellor Chris Duree the stare funding level per pupil for private colleges totaling $2,514 in 2012 versus a total of $1,851 per pupil for community colleges was raised as an issue of concern. Duree said the community college position is this amount should at least be equal.

"Do you foresee any equalization as part of education funding coming in the 2013 session?"


State Rep. Dean Fisher (R-Garwin):

Our Community College system provides excellent value for Iowa's education dollar. I would strongly encourage students to consider utilizing the Community College system for their degree or to help minimize the cost of a four year college education. Roughly 86% of Community College graduates stay in Iowa after graduating, demonstrating that the taxpayers support for our Community Colleges is a good value for the money.

First and foremost the people in my district have adamantly expressed support for keeping state spending low and for making our priorities in state spending meet the common sense test. While our private colleges are also valuable resource for the Iowa economy, they are independent institutions after all is said and done. I would favor an approach that would decrease taxpayer funding for private colleges over a period of years, transferring a portion of those funds to our community college system to help keep community college tuition low, and returning the balance of those funds back to Iowa taxpayers.

State Senator Senator Sodders (D-State Center):

One of my top priorities for the 2013 session is expanding Iowa's middle class. While there are several strategies to accomplish that goal, one of the best things the Legislature can do is to make higher education more affordable for middle-class Iowa families.

I believe we should achieve that goal by boosting funding for community colleges and our state universities

Here's an overview of state spending for students at our community colleges and private colleges:

Private colleges The average award for private college students receiving Iowa Tuition Grant is $2,514. It's important to note that these grants are not awarded to all students attending a private college. There are income requirements. These awards are capped, and the number of grant recipients is divided by the appropriation to get this "per pupil" number.

Community Colleges The state's per pupil spending is $2,138. In 2012, I helped lead a successful effort to approve the largest single year increase ever in state general aid to community colleges. That legislation included support for new opportunities to earn non-credit skill certificates and the creation of the new Skilled Workforce Shortage Tuition Grant. This year we need to continue to build and expand on those efforts.

Community colleges will play a major role in ensuring that more workers get the training they need and help Iowans recover from the national recession. The current skill shortage is a serious drag on our economy. By 2018, 62 percent of all jobs in Iowa - 1.1 million jobs - will require some training or education beyond high school. Yet nearly 10 percent of Iowa's working-age adults do not have a high school diploma.



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