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Community Colleges and The Workforce Sustain Each Other

One Size Does Not Fit All

Community Colleges Offer Educational Options

The traditional four-year college experience isn’t for everyone. Some students aren’t yet set on a course of study, while others are looking for a more affordable education. Some choose career paths that require only a two-year degree, while others may choose to step right into the working world. Still others may use their community college education as a low-cost stepping stone to a traditional four-year program. No matter the career track, community colleges offer something for everyone.

The very term “community college” tells us that these institutions serve us all. Created by us and for us, these centers of learning are part of the fabric of our daily lives. These schools offer us advantages that traditional colleges don’t. They offer classes that not only lead to more immediate employment opportunities but are more accessible and more tailored to our individual needs. We can study for a technical career or brush up on our existing skills, or simply learn more about the world around us.

Community Colleges are Funded by the People

There is a hand-in-glove relationship between the community college system and our contributions to its support. These facilities charge students only a fraction of the actual cost of delivering the educational services they provide. That is possible because they rely on our tax dollars to fund teacher and staff salaries, educational materials and student services, and to maintain their campuses. Our employment taxes make up a large part of their annual operating budgets.

As job losses in West Virginia mount due to the decline of our extraction and manufacturing industries, employment tax revenue is also declining, and our community colleges are directly impacted. They face shrinking budgets and cutbacks that endanger their ability to train students to become tax-paying, working West Virginians.

Adding insult to injury, West Virginia’s tax revenue is increasingly threatened by further job losses in our building and construction industry. That means less tax revenue to support our community colleges.

Fair Wages for West Virginia Employees

Right now, our local, tax-paying construction companies are being put out of business by fly-by-night, out-of-state corporations. These often unscrupulous organizations employ, low-wage, low-skilled workers imported from as far away as South America, to game the competitive bidding process for large public works projects. Worse yet, their imported workers take their paychecks back to their respective home states and countries, instead of spending their wages and paying taxes here in West Virginia. And the irresponsible companies they work for often skirt our tax laws before skipping town and heading back to where they came from. That means our local economies and our community colleges get zero benefit from the very public works projects our local tax dollars pay for. Meanwhile, local, tax-paying workers can’t find a job. Crazy, right? How can this happen?

Restore West Virginia’s Prevailing wage; a Fair Wage

 Well, in 2016, with little study, the West Virginia Legislature foolishly repealed our Prevailing Wage Law – a law that ensured our taxes would be spent responsibly. A law that required companies to pay a fair wage. A law that ensured taxpayers get the best bang for their buck with top quality work and directly benefited local companies, local workers and our community colleges.

Simply put, our Prevailing Wage Law guaranteed that workers were paid a fair wage based on a regional survey of rates for their particular level of skill and experience, the “going rate” as it were.  What’s wrong with paying West Virginians a fair wage?

The repealers in our legislature obviously didn’t care about West Virginia workers. They had their own secret agenda. They promised tax savings in return for gutting this important law. Those tax savings never materialized. Instead, we got record unemployment and local towns and cities on the verge of bankruptcy.

We can reverse this costly mistake. We can restore West Virginia’s Prevailing Wage Law and increase funding for our community colleges. We can be among those states with an enviable economy, one that educates and retains its best and brightest and provides a standard of living worthy of its citizens.

The time to stay silent is over. West Virginians are witnessing the negative effects of repeal and are calling for the restoration of prevailing wage. Won’t you join us and help move West Virginia forward by adding your name to our petition. Please get on board and help us to restore prevailing wage to Restore West Virginia and save our community colleges!