The close of the Iowa Legislative session brought with it some encouraging news for the state’s community colleges.
A bill awaiting action by Gov. Kim Reynolds includes a $6 million boost in state aid to be divided between the 15 community colleges in Iowa.
For Iowa Western, that means an additional $391,000, for a total of $12.4 million in state general aid for the 2019-20 fiscal year. Iowa Western will also get some of the additional $500,000 the Legislature included for community college programs that teach English to those who aren’t native English speakers.
In addition, the spending bill includes an additional $1 million to help community colleges work with private high schools. Iowa Western will use some of that money to collaborate with St. Albert High School.
At the beginning of the year, Reynolds proposed a $4.7 million increase for community colleges. The Senate concurred, including a $4.7 million increase in its initial proposed budget.
The House of Representatives had other ideas, however. It proposed a $7 million increase.
In the give and take that occurs every year as the Legislature races to adjournment, a compromise was reached that gave community colleges a $6 million increase.
A number of local legislators, especially in the House of Representatives, helped carry the message about the importance of increased funding for community colleges. Local lawmakers Rep. May Ann Hanusa, R-Council Bluffs; Rep. Jon Jacobsen, R-Council Bluffs; Rep. Tom Moore, R-Griswold; and Rep. David Sieck, R-Glenwood, were stalwart supporters of the community colleges in the House.
Other advocates in the House were Rep. Matt Windschitl, R-Missouri Valley, and Rep. Steve Holt, R-Denison.
Key supporters in the Senate were Sen. Dan Dawson, R-Council Bluffs; Sen. Tom Shipley, R-Nodaway; and Sen. Mark Costello, R-Imogene.
This funding increase resulted from a tremendous collaborative effort between representatives and senators. Reaching a compromise like that which will benefit Iowans is what lawmaking is all about.
Everyone associated with Iowa Western, and the other 14 community colleges, should be grateful.
The benefit of this funding ultimately helps Council Bluffs and southwest Iowa as the students who continue their education there often return to their home communities to live and work. We urge Reynolds to sign this important education funding bill.
And we think area residents should congratulate lawmakers for their successful efforts on behalf of community colleges.