Somerset Community College (SCC) has lost a significant amount of state funding over the last several years, and business leaders are stepping up to let legislators know they agree with Gov. Matt Bevin that Kentucky can do better. Several local business leaders are serving as Business Champions as part of the Kentucky Community and Technical College Systems (KCTCS) Fuel the Force campaign, which is asking for restoration of postsecondary education funding.
The SCC Business Champions Council is asking legislators to support the Council on Postsecondary Educations (CPE) budget request that recently was submitted to Gov. Bevin. In the request, CPE asks for half of the decrease in state appropriations since 2008 to be restored to the nine public postsecondary education institutions, which includes KCTCS.
Business leaders are concerned about how loss of funding is affecting their ability to hire skilled workers and the effect it has on local economies. Seventeen signed on to the SCC campaign, and members elected local businessman Chuck Coldiron to chair the Council. Coldiron attended SCC from 1969 to 1971. He is a past member and past president of the SCC Foundation Board and is the owner of Hyundai of Somerset and Donatos of Somerset. Coldiron and the other local Business Champions are part of statewide group of hundreds of business leaders who have become Business Champions.
Other local Business Champions are: Tiffany Bourne, Tony Brummett, Kenneth Crutcher, Clay Parker Davis, J.C. Egnew, Danny Ford, Teresa Hail, Charlene Harris, Stacy Ledford, Robert Kennedy, Jennifer King, Mardi Montgomery, Steve Morgan, Donald W. Moss, Mike Tarter and William Turpen.
Community colleges are the engine of Kentuckys workforce and are the states largest providers of workforce education and training, said Coldiron. To be a better state, we have to have a well-educated workforce and now is the time to reinvest in Kentuckys higher education.
Even though the recession ended several years ago, Kentucky is one of only a handful of states that has not begun reinvesting in higher education. Additionally, Kentucky is one of only three states in the nation joining Oklahoma and West Virginia that has continued to cut per student funding for higher education each of the last two years.
Were very appreciative of the Business Champions Council and their willingness to tell policy makers how they're being affected by state budget cuts to higher ed and the importance of reinvesting in our college so that Kentucky can become better, said SCC President and CEO Dr. Jo Marshall. These leaders represent the companies we work with regularly and have built relationships with over the years. We are partners in education and job creation for this region.
The Business Champions Council will take part in a business showcase event during the 2016 General Assembly to highlight the careers they offer and how they align with SCC programs. Additionally, Champions will attend a legislative rally and reception on Feb. 18 in Frankfort. Other outreach efforts include calls, emails, inviting legislators to visit a workplace or other face-to-face meetings.
To learn more about the Fuel the Force campaign and sign a petition of support, visit FueltheForceKY.com or contact Cindy Clouse at email@example.com.
Fuel the Force is a statewide campaign created to inform elected officials about the dire need of public postsecondary state appropriations for the 2016-2018 biennium. Business Champions from across the Commonwealth will share personal stories with legislators and the governor about the role local colleges play in the community, and how funding cuts have hurt local employers and the local economy. To learn more about the Fuel the Force campaign and sign a petition of support, visit FueltheForceKY.com.