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Investing Again in Public Higher Education

Wallis Watkins

On Wednesday, Governor John Bel Edwards unveiled plans for a new 20,000 square foot collision repair training center for Baton Rouge Community College.

“Having state of the art training centers for this type of work is incredibly important if we want our community to move forward and allow our people to have opportunities,” says Edwards.

It’s part of a statewide investment in community and technical colleges, one that he says “fits into what we’re trying to do not just in North Baton Rouge, not just in East Baton Rouge Parish, but all over the state of Louisiana - create more opportunity for our kids to stay right here, get a first class education and get a great job.”

Two more projects are also underway at Delgado Community College in New Orleans and Central Louisiana Technical College in Alexandria.

“It’ll be great for students who want to have jobs," he says, "and it’s going to be great for certain employers out there who need employees who have the skills and the education to do well.”

Back in 2013, the Legislature approved twenty-nine expansion projects for the state’s community and technical college system.

A few months ago, the Governor put those efforts on hold, facing the largest budget deficit in the state’s history, $2 billion for the fiscal year that started July 1.    

"I needed to make sure that we were not going to construct new campuses that put an operational burden on the system that they wouldn’t be able to handle," he says.

After one regular session and two special sessions, the Legislature avoided making any major cuts to higher education’s budget and is now reinvesting in the system.