State Comptroller brings information directly to Dalhart
By Robin Scott
Texas Comptroller Susan Combs made a second visit to Dalhart this year on Wednesday, October 14th to discuss one of her favorite projects. She visited the Dalhart Texan briefly before heading off to her next destination to discuss the need to encourage Texans to take advantage of two-year post-high school education and training.
Combs stressed the need for Texans to do away with any stigma associated with not attending a four-year college or university. She is so passionate about Texas’ need for skilled technicians that attend two-year vocational schools or community colleges that she has put out a publication entitled, Texas Works: Training and Education for All Texans. The front cover of the publication states, “Texas is the place where big dreams and ambitions work alongside possibilities and opportunities. The right training and education are critical to the state’s ability to take full advantage of this. The best way to get the job done is with a complete range of paths and choices that ensures there’s every chance for every Texan.”
Combs stated, “Today, a serious imbalance is emerging between the demand for skilled workers and the state’s ability to supply them. As the nation’s current leader in job creation, Texas cannot afford to fall behind.” The publication provides an in-depth study of these issues and recommended steps, which Combs states, “To ensure our state’s young and growing population is one of the world’s strongest and most highly skilled work forces.”
The 141-page publication includes information on demographic change and education, education and the Texas workforce, career, technical and workforce education in Texas, the economic impact of Texas community colleges, challenges facing CTE (career, technology and education), steps Texans should take and a complete profile listing for all community colleges and technical schools in Texas.
Further, to get a better grasp on the challenged faced by community colleges and technical schools, staff from the Comptroller’s office visited those campuses throughout the State. Interviews were conducted not only with college and school officials but also with area businesses and local organizations. The publication includes descriptions of the sites that were visited and how each of them has an impact upon the community that they are located within.
Combs noted that not all businesses in rural areas such as Dalhart require employees to obtain four-year college degrees. Many need employees that receive very specific technical training, such as the technicians out at Hilmar Cheese Company. She noted, “We need to eliminate any negative stigma associated with not attending the four-year school.” By doing so Combs believes that citizens will take advantage of programs that will provide training necessary for their specific rural area. They will get that type of training and remain in their rural area, keeping it thriving economically. She is hopeful that the publication will provide valuable information when seeking information about community colleges and technical schools.
In her visit earlier in the year, Combs emphasized that Texas is doing much better economically than most other states. She stated, “Dalhart beats the state averages in sales tax, unemployment and health issues.” She noted that Texas’ statewide unemployment has increased from 6.7 percent, to about 8 percent today, still much lower than the National average, and Dalhart is only at 3.2 percent.
Combs is a proponent of citizens utilizing Internet resources. On her last visit she urged every Texan to visit www.claimittexas.org and search on their own name and every family member’s name to see if they have any unclaimed property. On this visit she also encouraged citizens to visit www.getalife.tx.gov a fantastic website for kids and www.texasahead.org, an economic resources site. She noted that both sites offer valuable information to Texas residents.
For a hard copy of the publication, write to Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, Research and Analysis Division, P. O. Box 13528, Austin, Texas 78711-3528 and ask for publication #96-1361 (printed in December 2008) or visit http://www.window.state.tx.us/specialrpt.workforce for a downloadable pdf version of the publication.