Controversial Community College Construction Bill Passes Committee

Tim Goral's picture

Louisiana’s community and technical colleges won another round Monday in their bid to circumvent the state’s normal construction funding protocol.

But, according to higher education officials, the victory comes at the expense of Louisiana’s three other university systems which will have less money to work with should Senate Bill 204 be signed into law.

The bill next goes to the Senate floor for further consideration.

After a lengthy, and at times, contentious debate, the state Senate Finance Committee advanced SB204 which would allow the Louisiana Community and Technical College System to avoid the state’s capital outlay process.

Capital outlay is the state’s construction funding program. It forces hundreds of projects to compete for limited dollars.

Instead, LCTCS would find private partners to fund portions of construction projects, while also borrowing money directly from the state’s general fund.

The bill would provide the means to fund $251.6 million for 28 LCTCS construction projects including $92 million for Delgado Community College and $39.7 million for Baton Rouge Community College.

Projects include building new and better facilities to train welders, nurses, pipefitters and a number of other labor-intensive careers.

The bill’s sponsor, Robert Adley, R-Benton, defended SB204 as an economic development tool in a state that doesn’t have enough skilled workers to meet current or future workforce demands.

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