SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) — Louisiana's top higher education board is asking lawmakers to increase spending on public college programs by nearly $156 million next year.

Classroom (Thinkstock)

The Board of Regents approved the budget request Wednesday in Shreveport. The board says it's aimed at doubling the number of degrees and workforce credentials by 2030, as envisioned by the state's higher education master plan.

“We can lift families out of poverty and increase Louisiana’s prosperity through strategic investments in education,” said Commissioner of Higher Education Kim Hunter Reed.  “Our commitment as a higher education community is to improve student success, innovation and affordability so that more students are prepared to participate in the rapidly changing knowledge economy.”
The detailed request would boost state financing for higher education to $1.2 billion in the budget year that begins July 1.

It includes new dollars to cover increasing retirement and insurance costs, reward campuses that show improved performance and raise faculty pay. Other money would double the state's need-based aid program for students and ensure TOPS covers full tuition for all eligible students.

Lawmakers will consider the request during the legislation session in the spring.