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News Release from Comptroller Susan Combs

For Immediate Release
August 11, 2010

Comptroller Combs Awards Scholarships and Grants to Galveston College;

Recognizes Local Governments for Financial Transparency

(GALVESTON) — Texas Comptroller Susan Combs met with local officials and college leaders in Galveston today to recognize achievements made in technical education and praise financial transparency efforts from local governments.

The Comptroller awarded Galveston College a total of $43,860 from the JET (Jobs and Education for Texans) Career and Technical Scholarship Fund, which provides tuition grants to award scholarships to students enrolled in approved training programs. For this upcoming school year, the school has $21,930 in scholarship funds to use for students preparing for several high‐demand occupations where a certificate or an associate degree is a basic prerequisite.

In June, Combs awarded Galveston College $118,396 in grant funds to help finance equipment purchases for new career and technical education programs that support fast-growing industries. The grant money from the Job Building Fund helps Texans get technical training for careers in high-demand occupations. Galveston College is using the money for a program to train heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVAC/R) maintenance technology technicians.

“The Comptroller’s JET Equipment grant came along at just the right time for Galveston College,” said Galveston College Dean of Technical and Professional Education Dr. Brenda Jones. “In 2009, the city of Galveston’s Hurricane Ike Recovery Committee identified the development of a vocational training program on Galveston Island as priority. In response to this need, Galveston College opened its new Vo-tech training program in June. Needless to say, when Galveston College received a JET equipment grant from the Comptroller’s office earlier this summer, it felt like it was meant to be. The cost of equipment to start a HVAC/R certificate program is in excess of $400,000. The Comptroller’s JET grant covered almost one third of the expense associated with the total equipment purchases.”

Galveston College anticipates training 30 students each year to work as HVAC/R mechanics and installers, two “high-growth, high-demand” occupations with an annual average of 275 job openings in the Gulf Coast region. Galveston College students will learn to install and maintain HVAC/R equipment in order to meet the latest standards in the field. The funded equipment will be used in solar and geothermal systems training in the school’s commercial refrigeration courses.

For more information about scholarship and equipment grant Every Chance Funds, visit www.everychanceeverytexan.org/funds.

Regarding local transparency efforts, Galveston County recently received a gold designation in the Texas Comptroller Leadership Circle, while the city of Santa Fe received a bronze designation. The Leadership Circle program recognizes cities, counties, school districts and other local governments that have taken their first steps toward openness, shown progress or even exceeded transparency standards in providing online access to their expenses and revenue.

“We appreciate the work of Galveston County and Santa Fe officials who shine a light on spending and ensure greater accountability to the taxpayers,” Combs said. “We’re opening financial records for public examination so taxpayers can see exactly where their money is going, promoting greater accountability and raising expectations for customer service and government transparency at all levels.”

Local governments receiving an award have opened their books to the public and provide clear, consistent pictures of spending with detailed information on how tax dollars are allocated and spent. These top-ranking entities provide information online in an easily accessible, user-friendly format with features that allow taxpayers to easily drill down for more detailed information.

For tips and a step-by-step guide to achieve local government transparency, as well as a complete list of local governments in the Texas Comptroller Leadership Circle sorted by city, county and school district, visit www.TexasTransparency.org/local/. New entities are typically added on a weekly basis.

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