Higher Ed Commissioner salary taken out of Legislature’s hands

Advocate file photo -- The Louisiana state capitol in Baton Rouge. Show caption
Advocate file photo -- The Louisiana state capitol in Baton Rouge.

The Louisiana Legislature won’t have final say over how much the state’s higher education commissioner is paid, but the state Senate will still have to give its blessing of whoever state regents select for the post.

The state House gave final legislative approval to Senate Bill 108 on the last day of session, removing the salary-setting authority from the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget.

But, as anticipated, it no longer contains language that would have stripped confirmation power from the Senate.

The House approved of that provision, but senators balked at the proposal so it was removed in negotiations between the chambers.

State Rep. Cameron Henry, R-New Orleans, said getting rid of the two requirements would “speed up the process … Now we are keeping the most onerous of them all.”

As they prepare to set off a search for a new higher education chief, Board of Regents leaders had argued that the two-step legislative approval would keep them from finding the best quality candidates for the job. Former higher education commissioner Jim Purcell quietly left the job in March.

The new commissioner is expected to be named this fall.

Regents Chairman W. Clinton “Bubba” Rasberry Jr. said he estimates that the new commissioner will be paid in the mid-$300,000 range.

Follow Elizabeth Crisp on Twitter @elizabethcrisp. For more coverage of the Louisiana Legislature, follow our Politics blog at http://blogs.theadvocate.com/politicsblog .