Yesterday, January 21, I participated in the press conference where Governor Jindal announced higher education and workforce development as important priorities for his administration during the upcoming legislative session. Based on the announcement, the 2014-15 Executive Budget, due to be released this Friday, is expected to reflect stability in base state funding for higher education with institutions being able to retain any additional tuition revenues generated next year.
Additionally, Governor Jindal announced his support for the WISE Plan (Workforce and Innovation for a Stronger Economy) - proposed legislation which, if adopted, would result in $40 million of reoccurring new funds for higher education. As proposed, the methodology to allocate these funds to institutions would take into account multiple factors including degree production in various disciplines aligned with critical current and projected state workforce needs. Institutions would be required to secure matching funds from the private sector.
While we are very early in the process, and many things could change over the course of the legislative session, the funding for higher education expected to be included in the Executive Budget is welcome news and much appreciated.
As everyone is aware, the current fiscal year is the first in several that Louisiana colleges and universities did not face mid-year budget reductions. It is my sincere hope the absence of a mid-year cut, in combination with the Governor's announcement, represent a long-awaited "swing of the pendulum" for Louisiana higher education.
As always, I will keep the campus apprised of new developments in coming weeks.