WATERLOO, Iowa --- The higher education budget bill approved by the Iowa House and Senate last week adds money for community colleges, including a $927,339 boost for Hawkeye Community College.

The two chambers passed a compromise bill that would spend $897.7 million on higher education.

That bill, hammered out in conference committee, settles at $66 million less than what the Senate had approved and $3 million more than what the House version.

Rep. Anesa Kajtazovic, D-Waterloo, called the bill good news for HCC.

"If we are going to build a strong middle class in Iowa, workers and students need access to affordable education and training at places like Hawkeye Community College," Kajtazovic said.

The bill continues a $5 million tuition grant program for areas in the workforce experiencing a shortage and also moves that program out of the general budget so it cannot be shifted into another program.

The bill creates a $66 million workforce training fund that would help some students would also qualify for loans or grants. Another $5.5 million targets adult literacy and education at Iowa's community colleges.

"Building our skilled workforce is a top priority, and the new job training fund will help Iowans upgrade their skills to get a good paying job," said Rep. Deborah Berry, D-Waterloo. "The training fund will also provide skilled workers in critical job shortage areas, like manufacturing and welding."

One of the highlights of the overall budget bill was a tuition freeze at the state's three public universities, the first time in three decades students haven't paid more for tuition.

Political reporter for the Courier

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