Posted: May 19, 2014 5:18 PM by Jason Newton
Updated: May 19, 2014 6:47 PM
BATON ROUGE - Lawmakers think they've found a way to restore some money to higher education in Louisiana by reducing the size of some state contracts.
A proposed bill would allow the Joint Legislative Budget Committee to negotiate most state contracts over $40,000, in search of savings.
"We have spent $100 million building a website for the Dept. of Children and Family Services," State Treasurer John Kennedy said, using it as an example of what he called wasteful state contracts.
Kennedy is backing House Bill 142, sponsored by Rep. Jerome Richard (I-Thibodaux), that would force most state contracts over $40,000 to receive approval from the Legislative Budget Committee. Any savings negotiated would be put into a higher education fund to help fight back against several years of cuts.
"These cuts are having a real impact on students," said Dr. Albert Samuels, a political science professor at Southern University. "(They're) delaying graduation because we don't have courses students need."
University professors from all over the state came out to testify in favor of the bill, saying any little bit will help with campuses struggling financially.
"We demonstrably affect the quality of education universities provide if we can't compete for the best faculty," Samuels said.
The head of the Division of Administration testified against the bill, saying it's redundant when compared to the Office of Contractual Review.
"In total the legislature has reduced contracts reviewed by OCR by a billion dollars," Kristy Nichols said. "That is a fact."
The bill ended up passing with no objection and now moves to the full Senate. Kennedy said the move can generate $100 million for universities.