Students urge legislators to support higher education bills

Urging state lawmakers to make education funding a top priority and learning how government works were the goals of 26 Victoria College students as part of Community College Day in Austin on Tuesday.

The students were accompanied by VC President Tom Butler, Vice President Jennifer Yancey and 10 faculty and staff members.

Students met and spoke with Representatives Geanie Morrison, Tim Kleinschmidt, Lois Kolkhorst and Phil Stephenson. Finally, all four groups crowded into Rep. Todd Hunter's office for an informal question-and-answer session.

Hunter, who represents Nueces County, was personable as he greeted the Victoria College group.

The legislator, a son of retired educators, said he is a big supporter of community colleges but that, "I deal with 181 people (in the Legislature) with different ideas. We have to get people to share our views."

Hunter described himself as a fiscal conservative, saying taxes are an easy way for politicians to raise money.

"Let's dream up revenues sources instead," he said, recommending gambling institutions in Texas and cruise ships docking closer to the Victoria area.

Victoria College Government Professor Jeff Hubbard said it was a wonderful experience for students attending the event.

"I would recommend it to anyone," Hubbard said. "We met with Rep. Kolkhorst (who represents) Lavaca County, and the students in our group enjoyed meeting her. She was willing to answer any questions that anyone asked."

A 13-student contingent of students from the college's Gonzales location met their county's representative, Kleinschmidt.

LVN student Shelby Voigt asked Kleinschmidt his thoughts on community colleges and learned the legislator is a fan of the dual credit system in which high school students can earn college credits.

Butler said proposed legislation will make it easier for students to transfer to a university without losing credits.

"You should not lose an hour of credit going to a larger university," the Gonzales County representative told the group. "You will see a huge push in the next few years toward efficiency."