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Cuts to jucos hurting state workforce

Budget cuts have almost become a way of life at Mississippi’s community and junior colleges.

Take for instance Pearl River Community College. President William Lewis said PRCC’s budget was cut by the state four times in 2016-17, and it suffered two cuts in federal funding for career-technical education for a total of about $1 million in reductions.

Now, the community college is looking at another 10.2 percent, or $1.5 million, cut from the state.

PRCC officials also are looking at possibly eliminating some low-enrollment programs and moving some employees who have 12-month contracts to nine- or 10-month contracts.

The situation isn’t any better up Interstate 59 at Jones County Junior College. Already having suffered about $1.2 million in cuts, JCJC is now looking at another 11.6 percent, or $1.635 million, cut.

This story is told throughout the state at Mississippi community colleges.

Mississippi lawmakers often talk about the need to improve Mississippi’s educational standing. They’re also quick to point out that having a better-educated workforce could help the state attract better-paying jobs.

But these continued cuts to education aren’t the way to move Mississippi from the bottom to the top.

Education is a key part of improving the future for everyone in Mississippi. A better-educated workforce would positively impact everyone.

—Hattiesburg American