Education and economy at front of Pennsylvania budget discussion

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SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) Education and the economy are front and center as Pennsylvania gets ready to debate the state’s budget.

“Last year in the governor’s budget addresses very excited. He focused on workforce development the skills gap job skills gap in Pennsylvania, what we find this year is promised broken,” said Sen. John Yudichak, (I)14th District.

In the 36.1 billion dollar budget proposal, Governor Wolf has measures to better fund K-12 education, but state Senator John Yudichak says crucial institutions are being left on the cutting room floor.

“Getting beyond this pandemic getting beyond this public health crisis and focusing on jobs means investing in community colleges, investing ECT’s .”

Newly appointed as the ranking member of the U.S. House’s education and labor subcommittee on workforce protections, Representative Fred Keller will be looking to make more of these kinds of educational opportunities available.

“We all have different desires there’s different things we like to do, and our educational opportunities should match that,” said Keller.

Traditionally less expensive than your standard universities, community colleges and trade schools offer specialized and essential skills.

Millions of Pennsylvanians have lost work or had to change career paths due to COVID-19. Johnson College prides themselves as cost effective and a major return on the investment.

“There are so many students from diverse backgrounds that just don’t have that opportunity because of that gap that that is there with their educational funding,” said Bill Burke, vice president of student & academic affairs at Johnson College.

While trade schools offer more blue collar and technical opportunities, places like Lackawanna College say they have an array of career programs right in your backyard.

“We are providing an opportunity to level the playing field. So opportunities that are out there for not just one person because they have a certain, certain amount of money, but really everyone is what we should be striving for,” said Kelly Musti, dean of health sciences & assessment at Lackawanna College.

If your focus is education and the workforce, “that’s what our community colleges, our current technical education centers, that’s what these institutions are all about,” said Yudichak.

Yudichak also argues that success with public, private partnerships is more reason that trade schools as well as community colleges should be priority for economic recovery.

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