PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Governor Doug Ducey signed a bill on Tuesday that would allow Arizona community colleges to offer four-year degrees. In a press release from Ducey's office, the new legislation would lead to improving Arizona's workforces and create more opportunities for higher education.
“Arizona’s community colleges play a critical role in supporting students of all ages and equipping our workforce with skills and resources,” said Governor Ducey. “Arizona is a school choice state, and today’s action is school choice for higher education. This is ‘Opportunity for All’ in action. It will allow students even more opportunities as they strengthen their education and expand their employment opportunities."
Today, I’m proud to sign #SB1453 to allow community colleges to offer four-year degrees, paving the way for Arizona’s current and future workforces and expanding opportunities for populations that are historically underrepresented in higher education. @PaulDBoyer @beckynutt3 1/— Doug Ducey (@dougducey) May 4, 2021
The bill was originally introduced by Representative Becky Nutt (R-14) and was added as a strike-all amendment to Senator Paul Boyer's (R-20) Senate Bill 1453. The bill passed in the House 55 to 5 and Senate 24 to 6 in late April.
“As more and more jobs come to Arizona, we need to make sure our workforce is ready to meet the demand,” said Senator Paul Boyer. “Community colleges equip students with much-needed skills, and expanding their degree programs will benefit adult students of all ages and strengthen Arizona’s workforce. It will also draw more talented students and diverse employers to our state. Thank you, Governor Ducey, for signing Senate Bill 1453.”
Thomas Mitchell, a student at Estrella Mountain Community College in Avondale, says he would jump at the chance to get a 4-year degree from there (though his field of astrophysics likely won't be one where it's offered).
"I think this opens up a lot of opportunities for many students who didn't have access to their bachelor's because of monetary reasons, and I think that's incredible," he said.
Chance Foulker, who is taking just a couple classes at Phoenix College, sees this as a great thing for students who don't want to move away after two years.
"It would be nice, being able to get it all done in one place instead of having to do part of it and then transferring around to somewhere else. So that's pretty cool," he said.
The law requires community colleges to approve 4-year programs based on certain things like economic feasibility and workforce need.
"We plan to immediately look into areas such as IT, healthcare -- specifically in nursing and health programs -- police and fire science, and teacher education," said Dr. Steven Gonzalez, Interim Chancellor for Maricopa Community College District. "This is a historical moment for the state of Arizona and higher education."
According to the press release, 23 other states already allow their community colleges to offer some four-year degrees. You can read the full press release from Ducey's office here.
“Arizonans are ready to get back to work. Our economy is booming, jobs need filling, more than 2 million Arizonans are fully vaccinated, and vaccination appointments are available to anyone who wants one.”
On Monday, Ducey announced an executive order that would once again require unemployed Arizonans to show proof that they are currently looking for a job in order to receive unemployment benefits from the state.