We have been asked about our rating for SB16-079, “Align Secondary and Post-Secondary CTE Initiatives”. Here is some more in-depth information behind our rating of “Oppose”.
The key to understanding our rating on his bill is to understand the context of the bill. That context can be found in the Colorado Revised Statutes, CRS24-46.3-101-105, as well as some of the legislation behind these, and other, statutes such as HB13-1165 (which POL somehow missed in 2013 but should have rated Oppose), SB14-205 (which POL rated Oppose), and HB15-1274 (which POL rated Oppose).
CRS24-46.3-101-105 make up the Colorado Revised Statute Title 24, Article 46.3 “Works Force Development”, Part 1 “Work Force Development Council”, or as we call it internally at POL, the “China-lite Approach to Central Planning for State Directed Economies”.
This section of statute creates and directs the Work Force Development Council (Council). The Council is made up of the governor, legislators, local elected officials, businesses, business trade associations, youth activity organizations, community colleges, community-based organizations, and labor organizations from diverse areas of the state. The Council is directed to accomplish many goals, such as:
“Creating a coordinated system to advance the skills and educational attainment of Coloradans across workforce development and education, in alignment with economic development goals… aligned with the real and current needs of industry… in response to the needs of industry… to align workforce development, economic development, and education in the state to the needs of key industries.”
“The state council, the department of higher education, the department of labor and employment, and the Colorado office of economic development shall work collaboratively to… determine needs across key industries and occupations… ensure that the talent pipeline development infrastructure includes… curriculum alignment for high-demand occupation… education and workforce initiatives to develop a strong talent pipeline…”
As part of this process, the Council is directed in Section 104 to create “… career pathways for growing Colorado industries with occupations in high demand…”
“Growing industries” are defined as “industries that are projected to create new jobs annually for at least the next ten years”.
“Critical occupations” are defined as “… top jobs or employment in jobs that lead to top jobs.”
“Top jobs” are defined as “… jobs that have strong projected average openings per year for ten years and pay a living wage…”
Another integral part of this program in Section 105 is that the state will “… reimburse companies that offer high-level internships in the innovative industries.”
So let’s summarize the context: The state created a Council that will make continuous 10 year employment projections to predict winning industries in the economy and create specific educational programs for those favored sectors, and even pay for private companies to give internships to students along the way to help fill these industry “needs”.
SB16-079 continues to fill in the blanks on how to leverage the educational system for the benefit of this central planning approach to Colorado’s economy. This is evidenced both directly and indirectly. The Fiscal Note, in its summary, specifically refers to HB13-1165, SB14-205, and HB15-1274 as background for this specific bill SB16-079. SB16-079 specifically refers to CRS 24-46.3-104 two separate times. The language in the bill comports with the language of Colorado Revised Statute Title 24, Article 46.3 “Work Force Development”, Part 1 “Work Force Development Council” (workforce development, workforce readiness initiatives, needs of industry and business, etc.)
It is not the role of government to make economic projections and mandate local educational resources to create educational programs to fill government’s projected industry demands for what a free market economy will need in the future. The state could no more accurately predict these things than it could predict the number of hot dogs that will be required by all of the hot dog vendors in New York city next Tuesday. Yet, somehow the free market is able to accomplish this feat, and we believe that a free market is dynamic enough to not only change course on what is needed in the future as it is needed, but that it is also responsive enough to fill those needs, unless government gets in the way by trying to “help” plan the economy.
This bill and the context is which is proposed is in direct opposition to POL’s principles of Personal Responsibility (people are free to pursue education that best suits their needs without government direction), Limited Government (the government should not be trying to direct an economy) and Free Markets (the government should not be trying to direct an economy).
We are certainly not opposed to career or vocational programs that schools may want to offer. In fact, we would argue that we need more free market choice in this area instead of trying to implicitly force everyone down an expensive college track with a poor ROI. But we are not in favor of the state government centrally planning such programs.