It’s called the BILD Coalition, 'Businesses for Improving Louisiana’s Development'. The coalition comprises more than forty different civic and business organizations that first came together in 2010 to help pass the LA GRAD Act, one of the most meaningful reforms in post-secondary education in years.

Now the group is rallying around some simple but significant core values in higher education at a most critical time. Simply stated, BILD believes that in the face of looming budget cuts, post-secondary education in Louisiana can and should transform itself deliberately and strategically in ways that retain, protect, and enhance programs of the highest quality and support the state’s educational, economic and workforce priorities. In fact, the group believes doing that is an imperative that must be undertaken.

As part of this effort, BILD has adopted eight principles to help frame the discussion about the future of higher education. CABL fully supports and embraces these principles and we hope lawmakers and other policy makers will strongly consider them as they make decisions about Louisiana’s colleges and universities.

BILD Principles

1. Higher education institutions should be given sufficient authority to manage their costs in appropriate and accepted ways and have the autonomy to set self-generated revenues at market-driven rates that strike a reasonable balance between state and student support.

2. As autonomies are granted and efficiencies are realized, institutions and systems should implement and demonstrate meaningful reductions in administrative and other costs in the delivery of services.

3. Budget cuts to institutions and programs must be strategic – not across-the-board – and preserve high-performing programs and programs that support the economic development of the state and its regions.

4. Higher education should explore regional consolidation and plan strategically in ways that take into account the basic needs of broad regions of our state and eliminate unnecessary duplication of programs and services.

5. Post-secondary education should utilize a performance-based funding formula at the institutional level that recognizes the varied missions of institutions and is focused on educational attainment and alignment with workforce and economic development priorities.

6. Post-secondary education policies should continue to drive a balance between two-year and four-year enrollments comparable to other states in our region, by strengthening admission standards, implementing statewide articulation and transfer policies, and accelerating regional partnerships among institutions and across systems.

7. Access to post-secondary education must remain a high priority and appropriate financial aid measures should be put in place to ensure the cost of a higher education in Louisiana is affordable for all citizens.

8. Innovation and forward-looking practices, such as online instruction, should be embraced to contain costs and minimize disruptions to students in the delivery of services.

These principles complement the CABL Vision for Higher Education which we released last year. We believe both strike the reasonable balance that’s needed when it comes to issues surrounding post-secondary education in Louisiana. We must make cuts, but maintain quality. Fees may rise, but student access must remain a priority. Schools need freedom to operate more efficiently, but they must demonstrate savings and improve performance.

That type of appropriate balance is critical for our policy makers to understand. If we demand improvement and accountability, we must also provide our institutions with the means to achieve the desired results.

CABL is pleased to be a part of the BILD Coalition and support these common sense principles. We hope the administration and lawmakers will use them in a meaningful way to help frame the policy discussion of higher education in Louisiana, both now and into the future.

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