LABI president supports Amendments 1, 5

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 29, 1998

By Daniel L. Juneau / L’Observateur / September 29, 1998

DEAR EDITOR: I am writing to ask that your newspaper urge all citizens to vote in support of two extremely important amendments to Louisiana’s state constitution. The issues behind both of these amendments have beensupported by the Louisiana business community for at least a decade.

Constitutional Amendment No. 1 will establish a Louisiana community andtechnical college system. Unlike most states, Louisiana does not have asystem to manage these facilities. The result has been a highly-fragmented delivery of community and technical college education. As aconsequence, students are often shortchanged and employers have difficulty finding qualified employees. Most surveys of job needs into thenext two decades reveal that at least 80 percent of jobs will not require college degrees – but they will demand some additional training beyond high school. Louisiana must meet the job needs of today’s employers toensure economic prosperity for our state.

If Constitutional Amendment No. 1 passes, the state’s 42 vocational-technical schools and all community colleges – except LSU-Alexandria, LSU-Eunice and Southern-Shreveport/Bossier – will be moved to the new board. At present, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Educationsupervises the vo-tech schools; and the Board of Trustees manages the affected community colleges. The governor will appoint 15 members tothe board, ensuring that every geographic area of the state is represented.

This board will encourage the maximum use of existing facilities to expand opportunities for hands-on training and community college courses.

Constitutional Amendment No. 5 will force state officials to put 25percent of any one-time money, including year-end surpluses, into a special account to be used in lean times. Saving money during prosperoustimes simply makes good economic sense. It’s the same concept most ofus employ in our own families. For years, Louisiana officials havewrestled with the question of how to save money during times of economic prosperity. Yet, today, Louisiana continues to be one of a handfulof states without a “rainy day” fund. There is not one penny in cashreserves, should the state’s economy enter a bad phase! If you recall the recession of the 1980s, you will remember the wrenching cuts to colleges, universities and vocational-technical schools. A decade later,our education system still has not fully recovered. The best insurancepolicy we can have for a strong system of higher education – and ultimately improved job opportunities for all Louisiana citizens – is a “rainy day” fund for emergencies. Voting for Constitutional AmendmentNo. 5 is a common-sense move all voters should be able to make.

Daniel L. Juneau, President Louisiana Association of Business and Industry

Copyright © 1998, Wick Communications, Inc.

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