Fund education and you’ll fuel the economy

Published 7:00 am Saturday, April 15, 2017

Defunding education, whether through a one percent or fifty percent reduction, is not in the best interest of the state’s economy.

Creating, supplying and filling jobs are the core responsibilities of the higher education system. Therefore, when a state decides to cut funding to its public universities and community colleges, it cuts the hand that feeds it.

Mississippi has fallen far below the projected tax revenues for the past several years, resulting in budget cuts to almost every state agency. The best way to get that revenue back is to increase the tax base though high paying, highly skilled jobs. Recruiting and hiring educated employees from another state is not the solution.

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There’s merit to enticing companies to move to Mississippi by offering them a tax break, but that’s only one cog in the wheel.

Company leaders also have to know that when they move their business to Mississippi there will be an available workforce with the knowledge to help their company succeed. Workers who they won’t have to pay to move cross-country.

People often complain that young people move out of Pearl River County to seek opportunities elsewhere. But when you force higher education institutions to raise their tuition to such a high level, it either deters young people from attending college in the first place, or sends them elsewhere to seek employment that would enable them to pay off their student loans more quickly.

If the state were to establish a stronger, steady support of community colleges, students would be given better resources to become great employees and possibly future local business owners.

Creating more businesses with educated employees who command a higher pay would increase the tax base tremendously, and continue to fund education.

Yet in order to do that, the initial investment has to be made. Mississippi has the best community college system in the nation, but if it continues to lose funding, that may no longer be the case.