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Lawmakers seek higher ed funding boost

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Posted: Feb 17, 2014 4:49 PM by Troy Gaulden
Updated: Feb 17, 2014 6:53 PM
Source: WBRZ

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Topics: session, lawmakers, legislators, education, college, TOPS, LSU, Southern

BATON ROUGE - State lawmakers say they'll do their best to funnel more money into higher education.

On Monday a handful of state legislators spoke to higher education leaders about what they plan to do to improve higher education this session. They expect to bring higher education to the forefront.

"I think it's very important that the dollars that we spend, the things that we do toward higher education, they're spent to where we maximize the opportunities to give every youngster a chance to get a good education," said Rep. Steve Carter, R-Baton Rouge.

Legislators we spoke with today say the budget will be critical, and higher education needs a better footing in the state.

"I believe that we have to put some outcome based funding models in place. It would be excellent if we could possibly address the TOPS issue. I'm not sure that we can," said Sen. Conrad Appel, R-Metairie.

TOPS will also be an issue lawmakers hope to tackle.

"We need to find some kind of way to reel TOPS in even though that's going to be difficult to do. It's going to come up, and I'm sure there's going to be bills and we'll have to discuss that," said Carter.

LSU President F. King Alexander says he's pleased with the legislators' goals heading into session.

"It's nice to know that they see that higher-ed needs to be a state priority," he said.

Alexander says more funding will help to propel graduate numbers in high-demand fields like engineering, computer science and business.

"I see anytime you invest in higher education you get a 5 to 6 percent increase," he said. "You're going to see improvements in access. You're going to see improvements in completion rates. But more importantly in this case, you're going to see significant improvements down the road in terms of graduates in high-demand fields which Louisiana needs."

Legislative session begins in March.

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