Governor pushes CARES money toward Higher education, workforce development
COLUMBIA (Missourian) - In the midst of Missouri’s budget crisis, $125 million from the CARES Act will help higher education institutions return for the fall semester and Missourians access job training.
At the beginning of the 2021 fiscal year, Gov. Mike Parson restricted $448 million from Missouri’s budget due to financial shortfalls caused by COVID-19. More than $55 million of those withholdings came from the budget for the Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development.
“With budget concerns and job layoffs and losses across the state, workforce development will be critical to our recovery,” Parson said during a Thursday news conference. “Whether it be a four-year degree, a community college, a technical school or other types of job training.”
Zora Mulligan, commissioner of the Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development, said the CARES money will help higher education institutions safely administer in-person classes while also facilitating remote learning.
“One of the things we learned this spring is that it is possible for colleges and universities to very rapidly move all of their instruction online,” Mulligan said, “but that it is optimal to have a little bit more time and more resources to do so.”
From the federal funding, $80 million will help public institutions make accommodations for in-person learning and campus life. In addition, $23.6 million will be allocated from the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund for other resources such as staffing, payroll, student services and other needs.
To support online learning, $10 million will be allocated to support broadband and technology efforts.
Along with colleges and universities, Mulligan announced that almost $10 million would fund future job training for Missourians. This includes resources for displaced workers to learn new skills for different career paths and high-demand positions in information technology.
Mulligan emphasized that education workforce development is crucial as Missouri continues to reopen its economy and encouraged Missourians to keep seeking options for higher education.
“If they’re thinking about taking a semester off or maybe taking a year off, I really encourage them to stick with their plan,” Mulligan said, “even if their plan looks a little bit different than it did this time last year.”