Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.

UNIVERSITY PRESS

Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.

UNIVERSITY PRESS

Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.

UNIVERSITY PRESS

Senate democratic leader Ron Klein renews call for better investments in

Senate Democratic Leader Ron Klein renewed his call for an increased investment in community colleges and universities as “centers of innovation critical to job creation, economic development and a healthy, diverse business climate.” Klein, of Boca Raton, said Floridians should be “alarmed” that the state government’s misplaced budget priorities have apparently slammed the door on thousands of students wanting to attend community college classes this year.

Senator Klein’s comments came after the St. Petersburg Times reported that “about 35,000 students expecting to enroll in Florida’s community colleges this fall were shut out because the schools could not afford to offer them classes they need.”

“In a time when factory jobs are being shipped overseas and middle management jobs are being eliminated, those impacted by these job losses are the people who need the new skills and retraining to return to the workforce that our community colleges and universities provide. By closing the door on these students, we are slowing down the economic recovery in Florida and preventing these people from reentering the workforce with comparable compensation,” Senator Klein said.

“Florida needs to promote the creation of the good, well-paying jobs that families need to succeed. Employers look to our community colleges and universities to provide them with well-trained employees prepared to meet the challenges facing the 21st Century workforce. We cannot grow good jobs and attract quality businesses to Florida if we continue to starve higher education and turn away community college students who are seeking better opportunities for themselves and their families,” said Klein.

Klein also stressed that making a better investment in higher education is a key step Florida must take to become the economic cornerstone of the Southeast. “We must be willing to invest in changing our economy to become the high-technology center of the South,” Klein added. “We must begin by training today’s students for tomorrow’s jobs. The first move is to ensure all Florida students have access to a world-class education at a Florida community college or university that will provide them with the skills and training necessary to get a well-paying job in the 21st century economy.”

In response to the significant cuts taken in higher education in the 2003-2004 state budget, Klein offered a plan in July to dedicate a portion of the $1 billion in federal economic stimulus funding, provided by Congress to restore funding cut from the state’s community colleges and universities. Under the economic stimulus plan Klein proposed during a special session in July, $40 million was earmarked to community colleges to restore funding cut from them as well as cover growth in enrollment. The plan also dedicated $40 million to the state universities to restore the cut made to the budget for state universities in the current fiscal year.

“Investing in higher education would help immediately stimulate Florida’s economy and create jobs. The federal stimulus funds provide us with the tools to take a positive step to avoid many of the budget cuts that have wrongly targeted public education in our state – especially our community colleges and universities,” Klein said. “Denying the opportunity of a higher education to thousands of community college students threatens Florida’s long-term economic health. Unfortunately, without priority attention, our state may ultimately pay a higher long-term price as a result of the unfortunate short-sighted budget choices that have been made in Tallahassee.”

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