May 26, 2022

JOINT RELEASE: SIGNED! BIPARTISAN BILLS TO INVEST IN STUDENT AND WORKFORCE PREPAREDNESS

Legislation includes nearly $91 million in federal pandemic relief funds to align postsecondary credential programs with today’s jobs and expand in-state tuition for more students


DENVER, CO – Governor Jared Polis today signed two bills to better align postsecondary programs, save students money on higher education tuition and improve educational outcomes for Coloradans. HB22-1350 was crafted based on recommendations from the Student Success and Workforce Revitalization Task Force.

“Every Coloradan should have access to educational opportunities that set them up to thrive, and these new laws prioritize our workforce needs and students’ success,” said Rep. Julie McCluskie, D-Dillon. “I’m incredibly proud to stand behind two bills Governor Polis signed into law to address workforce needs in the high country and across Colorado by creating high impact postsecondary credential programs and reducing the cost of higher education for Colorado high school graduates. When given the right tools, our students can grow, achieve and secure better paying jobs, and that’s what this legislation is designed to do.”

“Industries across the state continue to face workforce shortages as they recover from the pandemic’s effects on the economy,” said Senator Jeff Bridges, D-Greenwood Village. “Investing in our workforce will have a transformational effect on workforce shortages today and well into the future. We are delivering Colorado the workforce it needs to continue moving our economy forward.”

The Regional Talent Development Grant Program, HB22-1350, establishes a $91 million grant program to build and scale successful partnerships between employers and postsecondary institutions to fill good jobs in growing industries. The bipartisan legislation, sponsored by Representative McCluskie and Senator Bridges, as well as Representative Janice Rich, R-Grand Junction and Senator Paul Lundeen, R-Monument, utilizes federal pandemic relief dollars to foster regional talent development initiatives to fill good jobs in growing industries.

The program takes a regional approach to build and scale successful partnerships between employers and postsecondary institutions. These partnerships will create new pathways into high-skilled and high-demand industries, especially in industries with staffing shortages.

Governor Polis also signed HB22-1155, sponsored by Representatives Julie McCluskie and Perry Will, R-New Castle and Senators Dominick Moreno and Julie Gonzales, to expand access to in-state tuition for Colorado high school students.

“The cost of higher education shouldn’t deter Colorado’s students from pursuing a postsecondary degree at one of the excellent colleges and universities in the state,” said Senate Majority Leader Dominick Moreno, D-Commerce City. “By expanding the pool of students who qualify for in-state tuition, we lower the cost of education and empower students to make decisions for their future based on their goals rather than the price tag.”

“We know that access to higher education can be transformational for a young person’s life, but during the pandemic we saw a significant decrease in enrollment,” said Senator Julie Gonzales, D-Denver. “Immigrant Colorado high school graduates should be able to access our public higher education institutions in the same manner as their U.S. citizen friends and neighbors. This is a common sense, bipartisan measure, and it also has the benefit of being good for our economy, particularly in corners of the state that are desperate for young, educated workers. I was honored to work alongside a broad coalition of business groups, higher education institutions, and immigrant rights organizations to get this bill signed into law.”

Under current law, students must reside in Colorado for at least three years before they are eligible for in-state tuition. This bipartisan legislation changes the requirement to allow any student who graduates from a Colorado high school and has resided in the state for one year to receive in-state tuition. The bill would expand in-state tuition to more Colorado students and families, saving them money on higher education tuition.