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Rep. Guthrie talks education, health reform while in Danville

U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie recently visited Danville in order to meet with education and workforce development leaders.
Guthrie was touring the state while the House was on a week-long break, gathering input in his new role as chairman of the House Higher Education and Workforce Development Subcommittee. He made time for a brief interview Feb. 10 at The Advocate-Messenger about the work the subcommittee is undertaking.
“The Democrat House members are having their retreat this week. We had ours in Philadelphia a couple weeks ago. So we’re home and I’ve been traveling around, talking to different people in higher education and workforce development,” Guthrie said, noting that he would be meeting with President John Roush at Centre College.
The biggest objective Guthrie’s subcommittee is focused on right now is reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.
One goal is to reform the act to simplify student loans so they’re easier to understand. Guthrie said he’d like to see a bill come out of the subcommittee’s efforts that would:
• make it easier for non-traditional students to take advantage of student loans;
• make things more transparent so students can take advantage of all the funding sources available to them; and
• make it easier for schools to counsel students on the amount of debt they take out for their education so they don’t take on excessive debt.
“We’re trying to help people deal with the rising costs of colleges and thats through more transparent, not taking out too much debt if you don’t have to and trying to work with states to see what regulations come out of Washington that are forcing them to spend more money that’s not actually going into the classroom, and streamlining our regulatory oversight.”
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The subcommittee will also be trying to improve career and technical education through the Carl Perkins Act, Guthrie said.
“It focuses on secondary … career and technical education. That seems to be more and more in demand as you hear more and more employers say they’re looking for workers but they can’t find the correct skills.”
Improving career skills through education is something that is “working into the theme that the president laid out in the campaign,” Guthrie said.
“I think his election was based on his connecting with blue collar workers who are hoping for opportunity to improve themselves, improve their lives, or their kids to improve themselves.”
A third thing the subcommittee is looking at is providing more local control over funding from the Workforce Investment Act.
“That bill passed a couple years ago. So what we’re going to focus on this time is the oversight,” he said. “One — the hardworking taxpayers of our country are paying for it, so we want to make sure their money is well-spent. And two — to make sure that the intent of Congress to localize workforce training is actually taking place.”
While in Kentucky, Guthrie met with a school superintendent, two university presidents and the president of Kentucky Community and Technical College, among others.
In addition to chairing the education subcommittee, Guthrie is vice chair of a health committee, where representatives are working on the Republican effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010.
Guthrie said he believes “most people” agree the healthcare reform bill isn’t working. Republicans want to repeal the law but keep benefits it provided such as elimination of pre-existing conditions and allowing children to stay on their parents’ health insurance plans until they turn 26.
“There’s going to be some elements of the (ACA)” that stay, he said. “Not everything is wrong in Obamacare.”
It will take some work to figure out how best to eliminate the ACA, he said.
“We’re saying hopefully by the 200 days of Congress, which would be August,” something can be put in place, Guthrie said.
“The details are coming — we’re working through the details,” he said. “… We don’t want to rush it; we want to be deliberate.”