The Louisiana Board of Regents approved a budget request seeking about twice the current year's funding level for the 2016-2017academic year, Julia O'Donoghue reports for The Times-Picayune.
The board unanimously approved the $1.4 billion request as the state continues to struggle financially, but says the funding is necessary in order to aptly train residents to fill coming workforce demands.
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The state will need more construction workers, skilled technicians, nurses, and engineers, according to officials. Both two- and four-year colleges need to expand their programs to fill the expected positions, but right now they do not have the money to do so.
"We cannot fill the workforce gaps at our current level of funding because we are unable to provide the instructors and staff that is necessary," said Higher Education Commissioner Joseph Rallo.
The regents also made a separate $301 million request for the state financial aid office.
Yet it is unlikely the education system will receive any of its requested funds. Even if funding levels remain unchanged, the state is expected to face a $700 million budget shortfall—at least. Last year, universities narrowly dodged a $500 million cut through increased taxes and decreased business incentives (O'Donoghue, The Times-Picayune, 10/28).
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