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The Gazette KCRG
Posted July 6, 2011
At Kirkwood, Santorum calls for shifting job training responsibility to the states

Republican presidential candidate former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania answers questions during a meet and greet at the home of Rob Gettemy in Marion on Tuesday, July 5, 2011. (Cliff Jette/SourceMedia Group)

CEDAR RAPIDS – Rick Santorum is impressed with the partnerships between Kirkwood Community College and the area business community to help supply a skilled workforce.

“It’s obviously a dynamic place,” the 2012 Republican presidential hopeful said after meeting Kirkwood administrators and staff July 6 on the Cedar Rapids campus. “It’s a place that given its partnerships with businesses and local school districts is doing a fantastic job of meeting the needs of a group of people in our society who are simply not prepared to enter a much more demanding workplace environment.”

Although the message from the Kirkwood side of the table was that there’s a need for more federal help to meet those needs, Santorum didn’t promise that help.

The former Pennsylvania senator did the opposite.

“My message to them was not one I’m sure they were anxious to hear,” he said after the hour-long closed-door meeting, “but we’re in a resource-constrained environment. The federal government is doing a lot on the education front, a lot which can and should be done by the states.”

Santorum, who has called for a zero percent corporate tax rate for manufacturers as a way to spur that sector of the economy and create jobs, said that incentive could be used to get employers more involved in making sure they have the workers they need to do the jobs that are being created.

“What I suggested is that we have to look for partnerships with the private sector,” he said. “It’s in their interest to do it.”

Overall, he said, under a Santorum administration there would be less federal assistance and more state-level involvement.

Steve Ovel

Kirkwood understands the notion of a “revenue-constrained environment” regardless of who wins the next presidential election, said Steve Ovel, executive director of governmental relations at Kirkwood. However, he and other Kirkwood staffers tried to impress on Santorum the need for continued federal support.

“One of our success traits has been the really productive partnerships with our business partners,” Ovel said after the meeting, which he called a “productive session.”

The federal government will continue to play an “important, strategic role” in investing in the nation’s workforce, Ovel said. “There are some things you can’t devolve to the states. There are some things you can’t devolve to the private sector.

“As we move forward we may have to identify more effective ways of re-engineering those relationships … to ensure that this region, this state, our nation has an appropriately trained workforce relative to the new jobs that are being created,” Ovel said Kirkwood officials told Santorum.

In brief, Santorum’s jobs plan calls for reducing the size and scope of the federal government, including passage of a balanced budget amendment, lower personal and corporate taxes, lower regulatory burdens, and adopt an energy policy that utilizes oil, natural gas, coal and nuclear energy.

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