We need to be bold.

Building a workforce for tomorrow.

Earlier this week, State Representative Gary VanDeaver and Woody Hunt, the Presiding Officer of the Texas Commission on Community College Financing, testified before the Texas House Committee on Higher Education in support of House Bill 8.

Rep. Gary VanDeaver of New Boston, the author of HB 8, has become a leading voice for providing the best possible education to Texas schoolchildren. Before becoming a legislator, Rep. Gary VanDeaver was an educator, superintendent, school board member, and earned a Doctorate of Educational Administration.

The bill focuses on three key areas for Community Colleges in Texas: State Funding for Positive Outcomes, Affordability for Students and Investments in College Capacity.

This is something that Hunt and Bryan Daniel, Chairman of the Texas Workforce Commission, called “a crucial step in redesigning our state’s community college network to compete nationally and internationally.”

ART is focused on supporting conservative candidates that will meet the growing needs of our state — something that Hunt said is absolutely critical to strengthen higher education opportunities in our state.

“More and more jobs require employees to have specific skills they can only get by earning certificates, degrees, and other credentials beyond their high school diplomas,” Hunt said. “The competitiveness of our state increasingly depends not only on the number of jobs but also the quality of jobs we create and attract.

“Texas community colleges play key roles in helping Texans earn the credentials required for good, self-sufficient jobs.”

However, this shift is not without challenge.

Before taking these critical steps, Hunt said he and the commission found two critical areas to consider: Competing with other nations, and addressing the demand for jobs that require post-secondary credentials, which are highly concentrated in just 10 of Texas’ 254 counties. Meanwhile, the would-be workforce to fill these roles is spread out across all urban, rural and suburban communities in the state.

Hunt’s goal, he said, is for every state dollar for community colleges to be intentionally and emphatically tied to the goals the commission set.

This will require an out-of-the-box approach, and dedication to preserving the Lonestar State as the best place to live, work and get an education.

“To solve these challenges, being incremental is not enough,” Hunt said. “We need to be bold.”

Woody Hunt is the Senior Chairman of the Board of Directors of Hunt Companies, Inc. in El Paso and an Associated Republicans of Texas (ART) Board Member.