Dardenne not ready to reveal higher education plan
BATON ROUGE - Lieutenant Governor Jay Dardenne chose his former junior high school, Westdale Middle in Baton Rouge, as the place to launch a statewide announcement tour for his gubernatorial campaign.
Dardenne is one of three Republicans in the race along with Sen. David Vitter and Scott Angelle. State Rep. John Bel Edwards is the sole Democrat.
In his speech, Dardanne declared he would strive to reverse the trend of making massive cuts to the state's colleges and universities.
"Higher education is a top priority, and it will be funded as such," said Dardenne. When pressed for specifics, he said it was too soon to reveal a detailed plan.
"I want to see what they do in this legislative session because it obviously may have a bearing on what we may do," said Dardenne, "it's certainly possible that the legislature may do a number of things that would put us on the right course during the session."
Still, Dardenne conceded that he isn't optimistic the legislature will spare higher-ed in the session which is set to begin next week. He pointed to a lack of leadership from Jindal.
"I'm a little doubtful of that happening with no leadership coming from the fourth floor." Dardenne said.
The Louisiana Constitution is written in such a way that higher ed and health care are vulnerable during budget cuts, while other spending can go relatively untouched.
Legislators pre-filed bills for this session to give the state university systems more autonomy to set their own tuition and control the spending of the state's tuition assistance program, TOPS.