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AL House GOP unveils $10M workforce development plan

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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

The House GOP caucus in the Alabama State House unveiled a $10 million scholarship program for high school students to attend community colleges and earn dual credits in addition to their standard studies.

House Speaker Mike Hubbard described the plan as a "game-changer" for students to get hands-on experience in career technical fields like welding and engineering.

Republican State Rep. Mac Buttram is sponsoring the measure.

"The jobs we're seeking to fill are good paying jobs, averaging around $50,000 dollars a year while the average income in Alabama for a family is around $40,000," Buttram said.

Currently there are approximately 2,100 students in Alabama who already participate in the state's dual-enrollment program with the Department of Postsecondary Education.

Wesley Persons is a senior at Decatur High School and he's enrolled in an aviation program at Calhoun Community College.

"First when I started my senior year I didn't know what I wanted to do at all and the dual-enrollment program kind of opened up some opportunities for me" Persons said.

At first, his mother wasn't sold on him taking a class away from the traditional high school setting.

"As I started out, my mom was totally against it," Parsons said. "I love it a lot and I proved her wrong and I'm really glad that I stayed with it."

The Department of Postsecondary Education advocated for an expansion of the dual-enrollment program and both Democrats and Republicans announced that doing so was part of their platforms for the 2014 session.

Republican State Rep. Mike Hubbard said Republicans did not work with Democrats on the legislation that would create a $10 million scholarship program that will be extended to students in grades 10-12.

"We're open to change. This is the vehicle that will be used to pass this legislation," Hubbard told reporters.

The bill also lays out tax credits of up to 50 percent for those who donate, up to $10 million. Republicans say the measure is revenue neutral with the possibility of adding approximately $5 million to the Education Trust Fund.

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