Letter: Bill will strengthen economy

Earlier this week, Gov. Bobby Jindal officially signed Senate Bill 204 by Sen. Robert Adley, R-Benton, into law. Legislators, mayors, chambers of commerce, business and industry CEOs and others have identified the community and technical college “facilities with a purpose” legislation, as the most important bill of the 2013 legislative session. While the purpose of this bill was to fund facilities, its true goal is to strengthen the economic growth of our state by aligning our workforce with the needs of employers.

Louisiana’s community and technical colleges are among the fastest-growing two-year colleges in the nation. The reason that people are flocking to our colleges is simple — they want a job. More specifically, they want a job that will allow them to have a middle-class lifestyle.

Today, most middle-class jobs require more than a high school diploma, but less than a bachelor’s degree. These jobs include service technicians, welders and pipefitters. Senate Bill 204 will allow community and technical colleges to modernize facilities and provide the training necessary for our graduates to gain access to not only good jobs, but also some of the best jobs in the state.

With these new facilities, our colleges will start new programs in highway engineering technology, aviation technology, helicopter pilot, entertainment technology, cyber security technology, diagnostic medical sonography, radiologic technology, industrial instrumentation, alternative energy technician, chemical process operator, logistics technology, nondestructive testing, marine operations and cardiopulmonary care science.

Almost all of the graduates of these programs will go to work for an aboveaverage salary, which is highly beneficial for our state in multiple ways. Individuals with one-year certificates or two-year degrees tend to stay in the state. These middle-class wage earners are the backbone of strong communities. These are the people who pay taxes, volunteer at their children’s schools, support their local churches and are critical to storm and disaster recovery in our state.

Senate Bill 204 will help ensure that Louisiana’s community and technical colleges continue to solve the problems faced by employers, build strong communities, strengthen our state’s economy and create a growing middle class. I look forward to continue working with business and industry, communities and leaders in the days and months ahead as we work together to secure each project’s 12 percent private match which will lead to each of these facilities coming to fruition in communities all around the state.

Joe May, president

Louisiana Community and Technical College System

Baton Rouge