West Virginia Community College Bill Passes First Step in Legislation Process

Senate Bill 1, legislation designed to provide greater access to community college career education and workforce training, has recently passed the West Virginia Senate Education Committee, but still has a ways to go before the possibility of becoming state legislation.

The bill is also presented to the West Virginia Senate Finance Committee before it goes to the full Senate for discussion. Experts believe those stops are not likely to be an issue for the bill, which passed the Senate last year, according to WV Metro News.

However, last year’s version of the bill did not get approved in the House of Delegates, leaving a chance for Senate Bill 1 the possibility of that reoccurring.

Sarah Armstrong Tucker, chancellor of West Virginia’s community college, is hopeful that the bill will be approved.

“My elevator pitch for the House is that we just did an economic development study of the community and technical colleges, and an individual who earns a one-year certificate at a community college earns almost $17,000 more annually than an individual who has just a high school degree,” Tucker said.

Tucker added that she believes the bill is a “great investment” for the state, a “great return” on investment for the students and for the taxpayer.

Senate Bill 1 would offer funds to cover a career and technical college student’s outstanding tuition balance. One of the bills goals is to inspire students to take vocational or technical training courses they could possibly need for jobs in industries like natural gas, health care or chemical manufacturing.

“I would be fully in favor and hope that it passes,” Deb Harris, a BridgeValley Community and Technical College counselor told WV Metro News. “I think it would bring nothing but good things to the state in regards to retention for community colleges and also create jobs requiring people to stay in the state after graduation and completion.”

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