SOUTH PORTLAND — The Maine Community College System is seeking a 13 percent increase in state funding, with the bulk of the new money earmarked to expand workforce development programs, officials said Wednesday.

“We all know the needs of the Maine economy are changing. They are changing in scope and speed and diversity,” system President Derek Langhauser told trustees Wednesday at a meeting on the Southern Maine Community College campus. “We are uniquely situated to help meet those needs. We have a responsibility to not just request money, but present a meaningful proposal on how to help more Maine workers and more Maine businesses.”

The trustees voted to support the request.

If approved by lawmakers, the state allocation for the seven-campus system would increase from $62 million in 2017 to $70 million in 2019.

Langhauser said the system needs an annual 3.5 percent increase just to keep up with increasing costs, such as higher health care and energy bills. The rest of the increase would be used to expand workforce development programs, resulting in new initiatives and more graduates. Some of the programs are specifically intended for people already working in Maine, but who need additional training.

System officials also said the budget request assumes tuition will increase by $2 per credit hour next fall, to $94 per credit hour for in-state students. A final decision on tuition has not been made.

Langhauser noted that the state appropriation has become a shrinking proportion of the system’s overall budget. Currently, the state supports 38 percent of the $177.3 million budget, down from 51 percent in 2003 when the system transitioned from technical colleges to community colleges.

Also Wednesday, Langhauser told trustees that early fall enrollment numbers are up, which is notable since low unemployment tends to depress enrollment at two-year colleges.

“We have performed well in a difficult operating environment,” he said. “I’m very pleased.”

As of last week, enrollment was 16,659 students, 1.2 percent higher than last year’s enrollment at the same time.

Final enrollment figures will be available Oct. 15. The community college system can see big changes in the final weeks as people enrolled elsewhere transfer in, or students add or drop classes before the deadline.

Earlier this month, the University of Maine System trustees voted to seek a 12 percent increase in state funding. If approved, the total state appropriation to the university system would increase from $200.6 million in 2016 to $225.1 million in 2019.

Noel K. Gallagher can be contacted at 791-6387 or at:

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