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Budget panel approves $63M for Ivy Tech projects

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Indiana's State Budget Committee approved $63 million in state funding Wednesday for expansions at three Ivy Tech campuses.

The panel signed off Wednesday on $20 million each for the college's Anderson and Bloomington campuses and $23 million for an expansion of its Indianapolis location. The money will pay for new buildings, classrooms, an auditorium and other improvements. The projects at Anderson and Bloomington are being supplemented with $4 million in donations each. The Indianapolis project is being supported with $4.6 million in donations.

Senate Appropriations Chairman Luke Kenley said the money supports Ivy Tech's "unique role" of delivering low-cost higher education to residents statewide.

"Because of that specialized focus, the institution faces certain challenges and has different needs than many of our other colleges and universities. This funding will allow Ivy Tech to meet some of these needs and give more students the opportunity to earn college degrees," said Kenley, R-Noblesville.

The new spending comes amid a push by state leaders to refocus jobs training with an eye toward vacant jobs across the state and growing enrollment at Ivy Tech. But the state's community college system has been hit with budget shortfalls recently. A $68 million deficit across the system has university leaders looking at closing 25 percent of its 72 locations across the state.

Gov. Mike Pence launched the Indiana Career Council this week with a series of appointments and is expected to announce who will serve on the state's regional works councils shortly. Pence and a bipartisan group of legislative leaders have said the state needs to train workers to fill a so-called skills gap that has left jobs unfilled even as unemployment remains high.

The state-approved funding will pay for a new building in Anderson, new offices, an auditorium and a wellness center in Bloomington and an expansion of the Indianapolis buildings to offer new programs.

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