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Though it was a blink-and-you-missed-it surprise special session for lawmakers during their August legislative interim meetings, West Virginia’s divided ideas about education and attracting large modern employers still managed to make an appearance.

House Bill 117 would provide $45 million for Marshall University’s new cybersecurity program and a physical building for the four-year program.

“I don’t know about you, but I want to move our state into the 21st Century,” said Deputy House Speaker Matthew Rohrbach, R-Cabell. “I for one have all faith and confidence in the world in our students’ ability to compete on a global stage if we give them the tools to compete.”

He’s right. Students who choose such a career path need to know they will find those tools here at home.

House Minority Leader Pro Tempore Sean Hornbuckle, D-Cabell, saw more than just money for one university in the bill.

“This is the wave, and we’re going to get on it,” Hornbuckle said. “We’re going to get other companies to come here because of all the talent that’s being groomed here. … We will be the East Coast hub for cybersecurity. This is huge. These are the things we have to do to go forward.”

How wonderful to hear state lawmakers getting excited about such possibilities.

But as has become the norm, there were those who chose to twist what was happening.

“Frankly, we don’t need to be telling these kids you’ve got to go to a four-year degree and get yourself in serious debt to get a job,” said Delegate Bill Ridenour, R-Jefferson. “I would argue we don’t really need what we’re saying we need here.”

For goodness sake, no one was implying that all West Virginia students need to follow the education and career path that might be opened up by this single project. For many, a less expensive path will absolutely be the right thing for them, their families and our communities.

It is incredibly short-sighted to behave as though the two are mutually exclusive. Mountain State students bring a range of talents to the table. Some will benefit from the work we do to provide better four-year (and beyond) educational opportunities. Some will benefit from the work we do to provide better two-year, certificate and apprenticeship opportunities for them.

Lawmakers who have begun to sort that out are to be commended.

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