UL System President Dr. Jim Henderson says this is one of the most successful legislative sessions for higher ed in nearly a decade.

Henderson says he’s thrilled lawmakers approved a budget that fully funds TOPS, after failing to do so for the first time in the program’s history last academic year.

“We owe it to these students to fulfill that commitment. It’s the difference between being able to complete their college degree on time without debt and the alternative, which is something that we just shouldn’t consider,” Henderson said.

The spending plan approved by both the House and Senate is also the first in nearly a decade that did not reduce funding to higher education. Henderson says they’re grateful to all involved in passing this budget.

“What we’ve got now is some stability. We’ve laid a foundation for moving forward. Hopefully this is the beginning of a change where we can really talk about reinvesting in the development of talent because our employers deserve it, and I Know our students deserve it,” Henderson said.

But Henderson says improvements can still be made in terms of funding public colleges. He says Louisiana is the lowest funded higher education system among southern states, and it’s not even close. He says we’re a long way from making Louisiana universities truly competitive.

“We look forward to working with them to find some permanent solutions that ensure that we’re meeting the needs of the state and we’re investing in its future. I think higher education is one of the soundest investments we make,” Henderson said.