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Kemp emphasizes workforce development in speech to Kiwanis

Maggie Lee
Brian Kemp at a podium at Kiwanis meeting

By Maggie Lee

In his first visit to the Kiwanis Club of Atlanta as governor of Georgia, Brian Kemp outlined parts of his agenda including fighting human trafficking and gangs.

In his Tuesday speech, Kemp also emphasized that it’s a tight labor market out there, and Georgia has to invest in its workforce. But at the state Capitol, senators had just voted for a cap on dual high school and college enrollment.

“We … have a record number of Georgians in the workforce. But we need more,” Kemp said to the crowd of about 200.

“Everybody needs more people, it doesn’t matter whether they’re building roads, if you’re doing IT, programming, developing, whatever industry it is. Delta’s hiring, UPS is hiring,” Kemp said. ”People need more agricultural workers … it’s all across the board.”

He talked up the state’s schools as well as its more workforce-centric programs like QuickStart, which trains people to certain new employers’ specifications.

“But we have to keep our foot on the gas,” Kemp said.

His draft budgets for the next 17 months reflect cuts to many departments, but not to education. He’s also proposing a raise of $3,000 per year for teachers.

However, just before he came to speak, a policy he’s endorsed was taking heat down the road at the state Capitol.

There, after about an hour of debate, the state Senate approved a bill that would limit high-schoolers enrolling in college classes to 30 credit hours. The limit now is 30 credit hours per semester.

Broadly, Republicans voted for House Bill 444, and Democrats against it.

Supporters of the bill say dual enrollment has gotten so popular that it’s too expensive — about $101 million per year for the year that ends in June. Four years ago, the state’s dual enrollment budget was about $29 million.

Critics of the bill say it amounts to cutting off a valuable ladder to higher education.

Kemp tweeted his support: “HB 444 preserves our dual enrollment program for future generations of students and ensures our education system will continue to provide the workforce needed to keep Georgia #1 for business.”

House Bill 444 was rewritten in the state Senate, so now it returns to the House for reconsideration.

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Maggie Lee
Maggie Lee

Maggie Lee is a freelance reporter who's been covering Georgia and metro Atlanta government and politics since 2008.

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