Apr 26, 2013 12:19 PM by AP(PHOTO COURTESY: MGN ONLINE)
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - The state's top higher education board doesn't support the community college system's solo efforts to get construction funding outside of the traditional budget process.
The Board of Regents on Thursday told the head of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System that the proposed legislation he is supporting violates the state constitution.
After the hearing, LCTCS President Joe May told The Advocate that he still would recommend that the community and technical colleges continue to pursue passage of the legislation.
The bill would allow LCTCS to skip the state construction budget process that forces hundreds of projects across the state to compete for limited annual funding.
Under the proposal by Sen. Robert Adley, R-Benton, the community and technical colleges would be able to find private partners for portions of the construction expenses and borrow money against the state's general fund for the rest.
Adley said he will continue to push the legislation, which awaits a hearing in the Senate Finance Committee. He said he was angry that the Board of Regents voted against supporting the effort.
"Every time someone tries to do something that is good, they get afraid . They're only trying to protect their turf," he said.
Regents Chairman Clinton "Bubba" Rasberry said the proposal was an end-run around the board's construction budget procedures, which are set in the state constitution.
The Board of Regents oversees all four public college systems in Louisiana. It is charged with considering the construction needs of all the systems and prioritizing those requests, then going to the Legislature for authority to raise money for the projects.
Rasberry said May failed to understand the harsh feelings among the officials of the other systems engendered by attempting to corral the bulk of a limited amount of construction funding.
"The Board of Regents will be in opposition to this," Rasberry said.
Edwards Barham, a former member of the Board of Regents who now serves on the LCTCS board, said governors have approved more than $366 million in funding for community college facilities outside the traditional capital outlay process.
"It would be impossible to get where we are, absent this alternative financing," he said.