Lawmakers agree to create WISE incentive fund

Gov. Bobby Jindal and higher education leaders have won legislative support for a new incentive fund that will direct money to high-demand degree and worker training programs.

The House gave final passage Thursday to House Bill 1033 by House Speaker Chuck Kleckley, R-Lake Charles, that sets up the Workforce and Innovation for a Stronger Economy Fund, or WISE Fund. The 92-0 vote sent the measure to Jindal.

HB1033 doesn’t guarantee funding, however. Lawmakers will decide each year whether to put money in the fund. Next year’s budget bills include $40 million for the effort.

The Board of Regents will have final say over which campuses get money, based on recommendations from a newly-created council. Schools will have to put up a funding match.