Matzie champions state’s community colleges, funding needs

HARRISBURG, April 4 – State Rep. Rob Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny, today appealed for responsible funding for Pennsylvania’s 14 community colleges, emphasizing their importance to the commonwealth and its working families.

“Education is the currency of progress, and Pennsylvania’s community colleges are the gold standard for expanding opportunities for its citizens,” Matzie said. “You will find no better avenue than our community colleges for elevating incomes and ensuring brighter futures throughout the land.”

Matzie, a member of the state House of Representatives’ Community College Caucus, spoke before hundreds of student advocates and the Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges in the Capitol Rotunda as deliberations on the 2017-18 state budget ramp up before the July 1 start of the new fiscal year.

“Community colleges are the vital incubators for economic development, and short-changing their operating and capital funding needs is a ticket to mediocrity,” said Matzie, a graduate of the Community College of Beaver County. “Pennsylvania can ill-afford to tread water with funding below levels seen nine years ago.”

Matzie questioned the wisdom of providing insufficient funding for community colleges, the largest provider of public higher education and workforce training in the state.

“Investing responsibly in cost-efficient, proven community colleges – and I am a product of one of the excellent community colleges – is wise and warranted,” said Matzie, noting that tuitions at Pennsylvania’s community colleges average slightly more than $3,000, not quite half the cost of Pennsylvania’s other public postsecondary offerings.

“Per-student state funding for community colleges, which enrolled nearly 327,000 students last year, pales before funding for state-related universities, state system universities and other publicly supported institutions of higher education,” Matzie said. “We must invest in the colleges and job-training programs that provide skilled employees to industries desperate for trained and dedicated workers.”

Matzie also was joined at the education rally by state Reps. James R. Roebuck, Democratic chairman of the House Education Committee, and Jim Marshall, GOP chairman of the House Community College Caucus.

“Education is the linchpin for Pennsylvania moving forward in a global economy in the 21st century, and I am honored to join students and the Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges to press for needed investments in this arena,” Matzie said. “Anyone serious about making higher education more accessible and affordable to Pennsylvania’s students must focus on bolstering state support for community colleges.”