By Assemblymember Rocky Chávez, 76th Assembly District
My number one priority while in office is strengthening California’s economy and bringing jobs back to our state. In fact, right after being sworn-in to the Assembly, I attended a TechNet conference where I met with companies and listened to their concerns in an attempt to bring jobs to my District. Directly targeting companies is an obvious fix to our economic problems; however, this is a complex issue in need of creative solutions and I am looking to combat it in multiple ways.
One method I am exploring is using our education system to attract skilled workers before they even reach the job market. We need to make our public universities open and desirable to students everywhere. That is why I introduced Assembly Bill 13, which would let recently discharged members of our military pay in-state tuition at any California Community College, California State University, or University of California.
Currently, veterans who are not stationed in California before being discharged have to pay out-of-state tuition if they want to attend one of our public colleges or universities. The problem is their GI benefits do not cover this cost, meaning they have to pay for a significant portion of their schooling out of pocket. This puts California at a competitive disadvantage, considering 19 states already offer these men and women in-state tuition and 11 others have shown interest in enacting legislation similar to AB 13.
Offering in-state tuition will encourage veterans to move to California where they will contribute to both our local and state economies. Without this incentive, these men and women will likely choose schools elsewhere, taking their time, talent and skills with them.
The best way to fix our economy is to create a skilled workforce, and I firmly believe veterans are a vital part of this effort. We need to show them that college in California will be affordable in the coming years, in hopes they will bring their talent to our state.
AB 13 will be heard in the Assembly Higher Education Committee this Tuesday, March 19.