Posted: Wednesday, January 28, 2015 7:15 am
Southeastern Louisiana University President John Crain said on Tuesday that higher education institutions that were to get funding under the Workforce and Innovation for a Stronger Economy Fund cannot achieve the goal of bolstering in-demand programs if it cannot get the funding.
“Institutions can’t effectively enhance targeted programs if funding isn’t adequate,” he said in a statement.
Crain’s response came after Gov. Bobby Jindal proposed to cut the funding for the WISE program, which was created during last year’s legislative session.
The program was designed to give qualified institutions money from a $40 million fund to bolster programs for growing fields in need of qualified workers, such as engineering, by paying for faculty and staff positions, technology upgrades, scholarships and research.
SLU was approved earlier for $965,102 in WISE funds with a 54 percent match, bringing the total to $1,487,852.
But now that officials predict Louisiana will have a $1.6 billion budget deficit for next fiscal year, Jindal is proposing cutting funds for higher education, including the WISE funds.
Crain’s statement echoes what University of Louisiana System President Sandra K. Woodley said earlier about the potential cutting of the program.
“Any cuts to the funding levels provided last year will jeopardize our carefully planned progress to begin to close the gaps in Louisiana’s workforce,” she said in a statement.
However, Crain said the university will not know for sure what Jindal’s proposed budget will do with WISE funds until the budget is released.
Jindal’s proposed budget will be given to lawmakers by Feb. 27, who will debate it during the legislative session, which starts on April 13.