Expansion of financial aid for careers in key industries moves to full state House

Seeking to address workforce shortages, legislation expanding access to financial assistance passed the House Education Committee Tuesday.

Senate Bill 54, sponsored by Sen. Jared Carpenter, allows Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship (KEES) awardees to use their scholarship monies at proprietary schools, provided that the program falls within one of Kentucky’s top-five high-demand workforce sectors (advanced manufacturing, business/IT, construction, healthcare, and transportation). Carpenter noted the legislation would also apply to agriculture.

Kentucky Chamber Senior Vice President of Public Affairs Kate Shanks went to the table alongside Carpenter in support of the bill, noting the importance of addressing the state’s low workforce participation rate.

“We have testified numerous times that our workforce challenges are multi-faceted, and we need a multi-faceted approach. We know that some level of training is needed beyond high school for most jobs, especially for good paying jobs. And this bill specifically focuses on improving post-secondary attainment,” Shanks said.

In the committee, the legislation was amended to roll House Bill 133 into the bill which allows KEES money to be used for a workforce solutions training program offered by the Kentucky Community and Technical College System. The committee substitute also added language that would add schools for art and design into the bill.

The amended version of Senate Bill 54 passed through the committee and now moves to the full House for a vote.

Stay tuned to The Bottom Line for more updates on the 2023 legislative session.

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Jacqueline Pitts
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