Community College presidents contend a three percent cut in state aid will hurt their mission to create a skilled workforce in Nebraska.
Governor Pete Ricketts has proposed cutting higher education, with community colleges suffering the biggest cuts.
Southeast Community College President Paul Illich says community college officials worry the cuts will adversely affect the classroom.
“We’re actually in a position where we’re not producing enough graduates. So, we really want to increase our capacity,” Illich tells Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KLIN. “So, the challenge is how do you do that while addressing these kinds of cutbacks? If you grow your enrollment, as an example, that’s going to generate additional revenue.”
The governor, in his biennium budget delivered to the Unicameral, proposes a two percent cut in state aid to the University of Nebraska system. State colleges in Nebraska would be cut 1.4% under the governor’s budget proposal. Two-year schools would be cut by 3%.
Illich says the cut could hurt the ability of community colleges to train the skilled workforce Nebraska businesses need, such as welders, health science workers, and computer technicians among others.
“We know that in most of those cases those are the same places where we actually have a gap between what we’re able to produce now and what we need to produce to have enough workers for the employers,” according to Illich.
Illich says the biggest expense each community college has in Nebraska is personnel. He says cuts in state aid could force community colleges to raise tuition.
Jane Monnich, KLIN, contributed to this story.