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Blinn visits State Capitol to celebrate Blinn College Day

Approximately 50 faculty, staff, students, alumni, and community leaders speak with state lawmakers regarding Blinn’s legislative priorities and the future of Texas community colleges

March 9, 2017

Blinn visits State Capitol to celebrate Blinn College Day

Approximately 50 faculty, staff, students, alumni, trustees, and community leaders representing each of Blinn College’s four campuses spoke with state legislators Tuesday as part of the first-ever Blinn College Day at the State Capitol in Austin.

With the 85th Legislative Session currently underway, Blinn marked the occasion by engaging lawmakers and their staff in conversations regarding the College’s legislative priorities and what the future holds for community colleges across the state of Texas.

Blinn was recognized with resolutions by both the House of Representatives and Senate for its impact on the lives of students, as well as the communities the four campuses serve.

“Blinn College Day gave us the opportunity to visit with state lawmakers regarding the College’s priorities for the current legislative session,” said Dr. Mary Hensley, District President/CEO. “We are here to assist our legislators in supporting Blinn College, as well as all 50 community college in the state of Texas.”

Blinn representatives also had the opportunity to speak with 24 legislators and their staff, including Sen. Lois W. Kolkhorst, Sen. Charles Schwertner, 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 across the state access to higher education than any other public or private sector.

“The state legislators listened to our concerns and were very considerate of what we had to say on behalf of Blinn,” said Ruby Orano, a freshman on Blinn’s Schulenburg Campus. “As a student at Blinn, I am able to understand why individuals choose to attend a community college to begin their higher education career. It saves money and allows time to plan out an academic future.”

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.

Blinn also requests that the legislature maintain state funding to support operational costs for the College’s Small Business Development Center, which provides free consulting and low-cost seminars for small business owners in Austin, Colorado, and Washington counties.

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.

“State legislators have a very positive view of Blinn College and were excited to meet with its representatives,” said Mel Waxler, Executive Vice President and General Counsel. “We would like them to know that Blinn College has been here for 134 years, and we will be here for the next 134 years, providing students with the resources they need to excel.”

For more information regarding Blinn’s legislative priorities, visit: www.blinn.edu/gov_public/legislative_matters.html.