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News Release from Comptroller Susan Combs

For Immediate Release
September 28, 2010

Comptroller Combs Recognizes El Paso Community College for Technical Education; Honors Local Governments for Financial Transparency

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

The Comptroller has awarded the El Paso Community College District a total of $107,025 from the JET (Jobs and Education for Texans) Career and Technical Scholarship Fund, which provides grants to fund scholarships for students enrolled in approved training programs. For the current school year, the college has $53,513 in scholarship funds to use for students preparing for several high‐demand occupations where a certificate or an associate degree is a basic prerequisite.

“Students in the El Paso area are among thousands benefiting from JET funds to earn the certificates and degrees that will enable them to better provide for themselves and their families,” Combs said.

In December 2009, the Texas Comptroller’s office issued $2.26 million to 13 institutions in the first round of Job Building Fund grants — a program with a total of $10 million in grants to award — to help finance equipment purchases for new career and technical education programs that support fast-growing industries throughout the state. El Paso Community College received $52,445 in grant funds for the automotive technology program to help purchase and install a dynamometer that will enhance how students are trained to diagnose and repair automobiles.

“This is the first time that El Paso Community College has had a dynamometer, which is used to test engines and transmissions under simulated driving conditions,” Combs said. “The investment will better prepare students looking for employment as many auto repair facilities in El Paso look for mechanics trained to operate the new high-tech equipment.”

Also in 2009, Project ARRIBA (Advanced Retraining & Redevelopment Initiative in Border Areas) in El Paso received $500,000 in Launchpad Funds from the Comptroller. A matching local government investment will help Project Arriba, a jobs-training program, serve students in the Upper Rio Grande Valley with long-term, high-skilled training and counseling services necessary to access jobs in hard-to-fill demand occupations.

For more information about scholarships and equipment grants made possible by Every Chance Funds, visit www.everychanceeverytexan.org/funds.

Regarding local transparency efforts, Combs recognized three area school districts for meeting high standards in fiscal transparency. The Ysleta and Dell City Independent School Districts both recently received a gold designation in the Texas Comptroller Leadership Circle, while Socorro ISD received a silver 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 these school district 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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