Wednesday, July 19, 2017
Hartzler introduces bill to promote jobs, infrastructure in rural areas
Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) announced today she introduced the Expanding Rural Investment in Jobs and Infrastructure Act (HR 3242), which directs the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to open up federal funding for more rural community facilities.
“The Expanding Rural Investment in Jobs and Infrastructure Act would allow more community colleges, hospitals, technical schools, and other training centers to access funding for rural infrastructure improvements,” said Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler. “The forefront of job training takes place in rural community colleges and technical schools with programs that focus on important skills like medical training and agricultural, educational, and mechanical certifications. Without these schools, such as State Fair Community College, our local economy would not have the workforce it needs. We need to ensure our rural communities have quality infrastructure and career opportunities that set the next generation up for success.”
USDA set up the Rural Community Facilities Program in 1985 to provide financial assistance through loans and grants to community facilities — such as police stations and community colleges — for towns with a population of 20,000 or less. In fiscal year 2016, the program had $500 million left unused that was reprogrammed to other areas. The Expanding Rural Investment in Jobs and Infrastructure Actwould take that funding and make it available to rural areas that narrowly missed the 20,000 cutoff.
The legislation allows towns with a population of 20,000-35,000 to access funding during the second half of the year while preserving primary access for towns with a population less than 20,000. In addition, funding for the larger towns of 20,000-35,000 would be more narrowly tailored for purposes of job training, healthcare, and public safety services.
“It does not make sense to have a program which is designed to invest in job creation, health infrastructure and public safety but cannot make those investments where many of our rural colleges and hospitals are located,” Hartzler added.
The Expanding Rural Investment In Jobs and Infrastructure Act includes provisions to ensure institutions serving regional areas, such as community colleges, hospitals and public safety offices, can receive funding to benefit their surrounding communities.
“We greatly appreciate the support of Congresswoman Hartzler for rural Missouri and community colleges,” said Dr. Joanna Anderson, President of State Fair Community College. “Specifically, this would give State Fair Community College the potential to apply for competitive funds to expand much needed technical training. SFCC is seeking to construct a new technical education facility that would provide space for a diesel mechanics program and an agricultural mechanics program--two areas of high job demand and growth in our region. This legislation is needed to help growing communities like Sedalia in rural America.”
Rural community colleges serve 3.4 million, or 37%, of the 10.2 million community college students enrolled across the nation. These 589 colleges represent 60% of all the community colleges nationwide.