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Blinn students visit state Capitol as part of Texas Community College Day

More than 30 Blinn students speak with state lawmakers regarding the value of community colleges

February 9, 2017

More than 30 Blinn College students spoke with state legislators Tuesday as part of Texas Community College Day at the state Capitol in Austin.

Community College DayThe day began in the Senate chambers inside the Capitol, where more than 1,000 representatives from the 50 Texas community college districts were recognized by state lawmakers. Students from Blinn’s Brenham and Bryan campuses then met with elected officials to discuss the value of community colleges and what the future holds for the institutions.

“Community College Day provides an opportunity for legislators to hear what questions and concerns students may have,” said Dr. Dennis Crowson, Senior Vice President for Student Services. “It also gives students the chance to see the Texas Legislature in action and meet personally with lawmakers – an experience they always will remember.”

Students spoke to several legislators, including Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, Rep. Kyle Kacal, Rep. John Raney, and Rep. Leighton Schubert, regarding the need for community college funding to meet the state’s growing demand for a community college education. More than 715,000 students enrolled in Texas public community colleges in Fall 2016, providing more students in the state access to higher education than any other public or private sector.

“Many students do not have the opportunity to attend a four-year university right out of high school, so community colleges are very important to Texas students,” said Courtney Solomon, a sophomore from Eagle Lake. “This was my first time to visit the Capitol, and it was a great learning experience. The legislators addressed every topic we brought to their attention, including the current state of community college funding and what legislators are hoping to accomplish.”

Prior to the 85th Texas Legislative Session, Blinn College established six legislative priorities designed to urge state lawmakers to provide adequate support for Texas community colleges. Those priorities are:

  1. Blinn supports the state funding goals for community colleges as adopted by the Texas Association of Community Colleges (TACC) and Community College Association of Texas Trustees (CCATT). This includes increasing core funding for each community college district by $250,000 per year; funding student success points at a minimum of $185 per point; and increasing state funding for community college instruction by $45 million, allowing community colleges to meet workforce skill demands, increase dual credit courses, and expand educational opportunities for all students.
  2. Blinn College supports enhanced policies, programs and associated funding to strengthen the workforce development services and initiatives as adopted by TACC and CCATT.
  3. Blinn College supports an increase in state funding to further Blinn College’s efforts to provide an affordable higher education for all students.
  4. Blinn College is committed to strengthening its business and industry partnerships and to enhancing workforce development in all of its service area.
  5. Blinn College supports additional state funding to offset the rising expenses associated with Hazlewood exemptions.
  6. Blinn College supports maintenance of the existing level of state funding for the operation of the Star of the Republic Museum.

Increased state support would help Blinn and other Texas community colleges meet expanded demand for their services. Texas community colleges have seen an enrollment increase of more than 70 percent since 2000, and 78 percent of students who earn a bachelor’s degree from a Texas university have community college credit on their transcript.

“These priorities are designed to provide adequate support for community colleges across the state,” said Dr. Mary Hensley, Blinn College District President/CEO. “These funds would allow Texas community colleges to strengthen business partnerships, enhance workforce development, fund expanded programs and services, and ensure that higher education remains affordable for Texas students.”

For more information regarding Blinn and its role in the current legislative session, visit: www.blinn.edu/gov_public/legislative_matters.html.

See video highlights of Community College Day