Senate approves new higher education incentive fund
BATON ROUGE - The Senate agreed Tuesday to set up a new higher education incentive fund sought by Gov. Bobby Jindal to direct money to high-demand degree and worker training programs.
The bill by House Speaker Chuck Kleckley, R-Lake Charles, would set up the Workforce and Innovation for a Stronger Economy Fund, called the WISE Fund. However, money for the fund would have to be budgeted annually, if lawmakers choose to do so.
Jindal proposes $40 million for the upcoming 2014-15 fiscal year. That money is included in budget bills awaiting debate on the Senate floor.
A council that includes higher education system leaders and the state economic development and labor secretaries would decide how to divvy up money across campuses, and the Board of Regents would make the final decision.
Each campus wouldn't be guaranteed a slice of the money. To get the dollars, schools would have to work with private businesses and get a funding match.
A 36-0 vote sent the House-approved proposal back to the House for consideration of Senate changes.