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Slashing appropriation would cripple training

MBJ Editorial

The Mississippi Business Journal has said it before, we’re saying it again this week: Don’t cut the two-year college appropriation. It is imperative that the state’s legislators gathered in Jackson for the 2000 session listen to the Mississippi business community.

Mississippi’s community and junior colleges and a number of successful workforce training programs are under attack in the Legislature.

As it is now, H.B. 400 would cut education enhancement funds by about $18 million compared to last year’s appropriation — an outrageous move on the part of the Joint Legislative Budget Committee. This reduction would have devastating and far-reaching consequences on every two-year campus in the state. Practical training programs, like the successful One-Stop Career Centers, will be especially hard hit. Vocational and technical offerings will also be severely impacted.

None of this is good news for Mississippi business. One of the nagging problems we have here is the lack of a skilled labor pool. The state’s community and junior colleges have best met the challenge of building better workers for existing jobs and for boosting the appeal of the Magnolia State to industries thinking about expansion or relocation.

Now is not the time to turn back the clock and abandon the successful worker training initiatives launched by our community and junior colleges.

Practical, hands-on, relevant and affordable education opportunities are what we need in Mississippi. The state’s community college system is designed to provide such opportunities. Let’s make sure that each two-year school has the money it needs to fulfill this vital mission.

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