McCrory’s community college plan right on the money

By John Peters

April 14, 2014

Gov. Pat McCrory has often been the target of ridicule and criticism since taking office, much of it of his own doing.

At the same time, it is important to recognize when the governor is doing good for the state, and a proposal he made last week regarding community college funding is one of those instances.

McCrory said he wants the state legislature to allow those colleges to keep money they have saved and “repurpose” that money to train more students in high-demand fields in their communities.

This makes excellent sense for at least two reasons.

First among those is that far too often, when a state agency manages its resources wisely and saves money, it is penalized by having that money taken back and dumped into some state general fund.

McCrory’s proposal rewards those who manage their resources frugally, allowing them to keep some of the money they save and use it where it is most needed — in the individual communities.

In this particular case, the community college system has, collectively, saved $18 million from a program aimed at offering high-school level curriculum to incoming students who haven’t mastered requisite skills to succeed in higher education, according to state wide media reports.

Rather than take this money back, or dump it into some general fund, the governor wants to return this money to the colleges for job training programs.

Second, it puts significant decision making power in the hands of local community college officials, where it belongs. This money would remain with the community colleges that saved it, to be used for job training in fields of high demand in a given community.

A program in one community that has a good number of available jobs in a particular field might not play so well in another community half-way across the state. McCrory’s proposal allows the colleges, working with their local industry and business, to tailor how that money is spent to best train a workforce for the local market.

This is the kind of common-sense approach to government that is so often lacking in Raleigh. We hope this is the start of something new.