Higher education leaders across the state are preoccupied with the same things that concern business owners and employees in the private sector: declining revenues, increasing costs and forecasts for a slow recovery.
In spite of these challenges, CBC is working hard to start new programs that the community needs with special allocations or completely without state dollars.
For example, this past fall, after an extensive and rigorous application process, we became a baccalaureate institution with the start of our Bachelor of Applied Science in Applied Management program. The Legislature funds this pilot program, designed to increase the number of bachelor degrees awarded each year, at seven community colleges around the state.
We've also started a Nuclear Technology program that is being paid for by local businesses that need these workers. And we've created a Leadership Fellows program that includes guest lecturers from Stanford, Harvard, the UW, Air Force Academy and West Point.
These and other efforts will keep us moving forward on the Mid-Columbia's higher education needs even in a time of financial austerity because our research shows we are clearly a big part of economic vitality in this region. We train and place workers in most of the local industries, and our data show that community colleges add real wealth to the communities they serve through greater income generation and increased tax revenues as well as in reduced costs for social services, health, welfare and corrections.
Simply put, CBC is a community engine for social mobility and economic development. Under our work force development mission, we train the majority of this region's first responders, health care professionals, information technology experts, front and back office workers, bookkeepers, welders, marketers, mechanics, machinists and engineering technologists.
Additionally, hundreds of people who have become unemployed in the current bleak economy are trained for new jobs in programs such as our "CBC WorkSource Academy," a series of short-term certificates that we are offering with our great partners at the Workforce Development Council. Under our transitional studies mission, we serve hundreds of GED completers and hundreds of foreign-language speakers so they can become more functional in an English-language society.
Furthermore, we are part of the state's "junior college" mission that is the starting point for more than 40 percent of all students who graduate with bachelor degrees from the state's four-year colleges and universities. The modern economy increasingly requires further education, and CBC is adding that value locally to employee and employer alike.
Ironically, now -- in the middle of the Great Recession -- is the best time to invest in higher education. But when the dust settles, CBC will have lost somewhere between 15 percent and 20 percent of its state budget. As you might expect, this is causing some disruption to our level of service, as we have lost numerous employees through layoffs, suffered attrition without replacements and discontinued several programs. Students are finding longer lines. We have slower admissions, financial aid and registration processing. There are fewer available parking spots. Classes are closing on the first day or two of registration without new sections being opened. We have shorter hours of operation for our library, fitness center and other services. Recently unemployed individuals will find it harder to get timely training that will improve their prospects.
To help during these lean times, we're asking our legislators to keep our cuts as low as possible because balancing the state's budget crisis on the back of education is a short-term strategy with long-term consequences.
In fact, the only operating budget request we're making is for more worker retraining funding, so we can do what we do best: get people ready to work. And we're asking that as the state raises tuition we also raise financial aid levels so that middle- and low-income families don't get priced out of the opportunities that further education can provide.
In good economies and bad, CBC stands as a beacon for a community striving for greater opportunities and access to a better life.