Governor visits WSCC, speaks about education programs.

February 18, 2019

Gov. Whitmer addressed an audience at West Shore Community College

Governor visits WSCC, speaks about education programs.

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief

VICTORY TOWNSHIP — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer visited West Shore Community College’s main campus Monday morning, Feb. 18. The governor was given a tour of some of the college’s facilities and then addressed invited community leaders. She said her emphasis touring the college was to acknowledge some fo the programming take place at local colleges.

“I was excited to see the connection of community colleges and the governor’s vision that she presented in the State of State address,” said WSCC President Scott Ward. “It’s wonderful to see that that vision for a stronger and healthier economy aligns with so many things we do here in the community.”

Whitmer said she was grateful and inspired by what she has seen at college campuses across the state.

“As governor, I am going to stay focused on addressing the issues that really matter to the people of our state and building a stronger economy in the state of Michigan,” she said. “I look towards solving problems together.”

Whitmer said she is focused on two main issues: Infrastructure and “closing the skills gap.”

“Part of what I observed in the State of the State was acknowledging the enormity of the challenge we face today, staying focused on the skills gap,” she said. “Michigan used to be the world leader in the work force. When it came to the work force, the skills that we offered, no one could compete with the state of Michigan. Sadly, we find ourselves now with a secondary containment percentage of 44 percent. Forty-four percent of the population has some sort of post secondary containment. That is behind where we need to be.”

Whitmer said she has set a goal that Michigan increase that percentage to 60 percent by 2030.

“It’s aggressive of where we are today but absolutely obtainable,” she said. “But it is only obtainable if we work together.”

Sen. Curt VanderWall (R-Ludington) attended the tour and speech. VanderWall said he is in agreement with Whitmer on many of her ideas, especially in relation to increasing access to career technology education and community colleges.

“I thought it was nice that she came to the west side of the state to role out her agenda of career opportunities and community colleges,” VanderWall said. “We are in a unique situation now with young people and the opportunities that have seemed to slip away from us. My concern is we need to come up with opportunities to keep our young people here. I’m 100 percent in her court.

“My concern is that we haven’t seen an actual plan for this and how we are going to pay for this,” VanderWall said. “Ultimately, it comes down to whether this is a reality. We have to have the money and she has been tight lipped about funding it.”

VanderWall said he expects the governor will share the funding plan when the budget is introduced in March.

“She’s got a lot of things on her agenda that are to cost a lot of money,” VanderWall said. “We just can’t continue to reach out to the same folks and ask them to dig deeper in their pockets.”

Regarding free tuition for community college, VanderWall said financing it was again a concern.

“We are unique in Mason County because we now have the Promise Zone and we have, for many years, offered early enrollment to high school students to attend West Shore Community College. These are great opportunities for our children. There is also a balance of teaching our young people that everything is not free and that they are also responsible for investing in their education.”

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