PACCC Presents Testimony to PA House Appropriations Committee

Pennsylvania Capitol

On March 21, the Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges presented testimony to the Pennsylvania House Appropriations Committee on the FY 2023-24 community colleges budget request.

The testimony was provided by PACCC President & CEO Elizabeth A. Bolden; Westmoreland County Community College President and PACCC Chair Tuesday Stanley; and Montgomery County Community College President Victoria L. Bastecki-Perez.

On behalf of Pennsylvania’s 15 community colleges, PACCC provided the committee chair and members with these community college facts:

  • Pennsylvania’s 15 community colleges educate 230,000 students annually across all 67 counties, making them the largest provider of undergraduate public postsecondary education in the state
  • The colleges offer the lowest postsecondary tuition in the state and enroll more first-generation and low-income students than any other sector of postsecondary education
  • 42% of enrolled students are from minority or other underrepresented segments of the population
  • The colleges offer over 1,400 credit programs that match workforce training to workforce needs
  • 40% of Pennsylvania community college training programs are in STEM‐H fields, and
  • Over 75% of those programs align with High Priority Occupations (HPOs) as identified by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry including nurses and computer technicians

“Our testimony aimed to make it clear why the Commonwealth must continue – and expand – support for community colleges to ensure that Pennsylvanians can access affordable, high‐quality postsecondary education and workforce training,” Bolden said. “Investment in community colleges is an investment in Pennsylvania’s long-term economic vitality and strength.”

PACCC’s state budget request for Pennsylvania’s community colleges includes:

  • Operating appropriation increase An increase of 25%, or $64.1 million, in the community college operating appropriation. The increase will provide funding that will allow community colleges to continue offering affordable, high‐quality postsecondary education and workforce training aligned with local and statewide industry needs – particularly in technical fields that require hands‐on, intensive instruction with industry‐standard materials and equipment.
  • Capital appropriation increase – An increase of 15%, or $8 million, in the Transfer to the Community College Capital Fund appropriation to provide for one‐half of the cost of approved capital projects. An increase in this state budget line item is essential to ensure that every Pennsylvania community college has the public funding support necessary to modernize their education and workforce training facilities.
  • Funding to strengthen Pennsylvania’s healthcare workforce – Pennsylvania is facing crisis-level shortage of healthcare workers in hospitals, long-term care facilities, rehabilitation centers and physician and dental offices. PACCC recommends that policymakers leverage Pennsylvania’s community colleges to address this crisis, supported by $35 million in scholarship assistance for individuals seeking a credential in a healthcare field at a Pennsylvania community college. Additionally, PACCC recommends $10 million in state funding to support activities in collaboration with secondary education to provide students with early opportunities to explore careers in high-demand healthcare fields; and $15 million for a new dual enrollment program to specifically incentivize enrollment in dual-credit offerings aligned with healthcare workforce needs.
  • Regulatory and statutory relief for community colleges – The Community College Act and related statutes and regulations governing community colleges are imposing unnecessary costs and hampering innovation and must be updated to allow community colleges to serve Pennsylvania effectively and efficiently. This includes providing flexibility in program design, program offerings, and eliminating outdated and unnecessary bureaucratic requirements. Adoption of these suggested changes will allow community colleges to operate more effectively and efficiently, increase the affordability of a postsecondary credential, and save taxpayer dollars.

“We thank Committee Chairs Rep. Jordan Harris and Rep. Seth Grove and members of the committee for inviting us to present our testimony,” Bolden said. “We look forward to working with our elected representatives on behalf of Pennsylvania’s 15 community colleges to make these budget recommendations a reality.”

View PACCC’s testimony on YouTube.