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Wyoming lawmakers defeat college technical-ed grants program

February 22, 2019

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Wyoming lawmakers defeated a proposed technical-education grant program at community colleges Friday amid concern it would cost the state millions without delivering intended results.

The bill, which failed in the state House 31-28, would have boosted community college funding while allocating up to $2 million a year for students pursuing technical training such as welding or computer programming.

Proponents in the House debate, including Republican Rep. Art Washut of Casper, pointed out that recipients wouldn’t have needed a high school diploma, encouraging adults and other nontraditional students to get training for well-paying jobs.

“That opens the door to a population of our students who are basically shut out from other academic programs,” Washut said.

High school graduates looking simply to train themselves in computer programming without getting a college-level degree or certification could also benefit, other lawmakers argued.

“In the future, it’s not going to be so important what your pedigree is, it’s going to be what are your skills, what can you do, and what intellectual property can you create that you own, that you control,” said Republican Rep. Clark Stith of Rock Springs.

Others, however, wondered what the program would do differently than what are already provided by community colleges and scholarship programs.

Opponents, including Republican Rep. Mike Greear of Worland, worried the bill simply provided more money to community colleges without coordinating with businesses to provide training.

“This needs to be worked quite a bit more. What’s lacking is any reference to cooperation with industry,” Greear said. “This is just throwing money at the issue and hoping that things change.”

The bill earlier passed the Senate 28-0.

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