During the 2013 legislative session, the importance of the mission of Iowa's community colleges was strongly recognized by Governor Terry Branstad and legislators in both the Iowa House and Senate. The funding allocation allowed IVCCD to keep tuition increases to a minimum, expand our capacity to address the needs of underserved populations, and enhance workforce training programs which support our local business and industry partners and the Governor's Skilled Iowa initiative. The end of calendar year 2013 reminds us that the opening of the 2014 General Assembly is only a few weeks away. With that in mind, we are communicating with each of our area legislators to discuss our top 2014 legislative priorities before they go to work in January.
State General Aid (SGA) is the critical funding stream that supports approximately 36% of our operating budget. Even with the generous support received last year, of all the publicly-funded educational institutions in Iowa, community colleges continue to receive the least amount in terms of per-student funding. The greater the level of state per-student funding, the less tuition is increased. In short, our legislators acknowledge that Iowa's community colleges continue to be the best value for every state dollar spent. Ongoing support to modestly increase SGA will ensure it stays that way.
Iowa is fortunate to have a governor who recognizes the need to build a skilled workforce. The Iowa community colleges have been given responsibility to be a key component for this initiative. The 2013 legislative session ended with unprecedented funding for the Workforce Training and Economic Development Fund, Statewide Work-based Intermediary Network Program, Accelerated Career Education (ACE) Infrastructure Fund, Adult Literacy, Pathways for Academic Career Employment (PACE), and the GAP Tuition Assistance Program.
Building a skilled workforce will take time and commitment. Iowa's community colleges stand ready to provide performance metrics and longitudinal data to measure the impact of these funding streams, but the legislature will need continue the funding to ensure the commitment to building a skilled workforce is met.
These are the primary legislative priorities for Iowa's community colleges in the 2014 session. Our elected officials have recognized the extraordinary value and critical role Iowa's community colleges play in providing affordable, accessible post-secondary education; partnering with business and industry to spur economic development; and linking our resources with Iowa Workforce Development. With continued support from our legislators in 2014, Gov. Branstad's vision to develop a highly-skilled workforce can and will become a reality.
Christopher Duree is chancellor of the Iowa Valley Community College District.