BATON ROUGE, La. – Moody’s Investment Service, a leading provider of credit ratings, research, and financial risk analysis, reported today that Louisiana’s Master Plan for Higher Education, if accomplished, will mean “greater economic competitiveness” and will be “credit positive” for the state moving ahead. According to Commissioner of Higher Education Kim Hunter Reed, the report is significant affirmation for the state’s vision and Regents’ plans and priorities, and directly ties higher education’s activities to Louisiana’s economic future.
Reed shared the good news with stakeholders, including the Governor and Louisiana Legislature, who supported stabilized funding for higher education and support for strategic initiatives during the budget process.
The full text of Commissioner Reed’s email to the Legislature is below.
I am writing to you this afternoon with exciting news about the state of higher education in Louisiana, and to thank you for the important role you have played in giving our state a strong economic victory.
Today, Moody’s Investors Service released a report touting the Louisiana Board of Regents’ new Master Plan to improve educational attainment as a “credit positive” for our state’s colleges and universities. The report concludes, “The master plan’s greater focus on educational attainment and equity is credit positive for the state’s diverse colleges and universities. While an adjusted outcomes-based formula may benefit some of the state’s public colleges and universities and lead to funding cuts for others, an increase in graduates who join the workforce has the potential to create a more favorable state funding environment. This is especially important since cuts in state support for higher education since 2009 have not been restored at the pace in other states.”
You’ll remember, I wrote to each of you before the 2019 legislative session and shared that Regents would be setting a strong vision for talent development in Louisiana and that we were committed to working with you to make it a reality. Throughout the session, we presented funding priorities and strategic initiatives for your consideration based on the belief that higher education in our state was reinvestment ready, and I am grateful that you responded.
The resulting budget stability you provided to our enterprise, in combination with our recently published Master Plan, including its refined outcomes-based funding model tied to underrepresented student completions, sends a strong signal across the country about Louisiana’s strong commitment to educational and economic advancement.
Today’s assessment of our efforts by Moody’s clearly highlights the fruits of our collective labor. It is a significant affirmation of our vision, our plan, our priorities and our policies. It supports the notion that we truly have the power to transform the lives of the students we serve and, at the same time, directly and positively impact the economic future of our state.
For your reference, the full Moody’s report can be found here, and the Board of Regents Master Plan entitled, Louisiana Prospers: Driving Our Talent Imperative, is available on our website, https://masterplan.regents.la.gov/.
Thank you for standing with us, and congratulations on this tremendous step towards developing talent so Louisiana prospers. I look forward to more great wins like this in the future as we work together to achieve our collective goals.
Kim Hunter Reed
Commissioner of Higher Education
The Board of Regents’ new Master Plan was adopted in late August and set a strategic vision for the state as well as a robust attainment goal of 60% of working-age adults holding a postsecondary education credential by the year 2030. According to the Regents, reaching that goal will require the state to more than double the number of credentials produced annually, from 40,000 to more than 85,000 over the next 11 years.
Additionally, Regents’ staff have been working for months with the four postsecondary education systems to align the funding formula for higher education to the Master Plan attainment goal. To accomplish this, a phased-in approach was adopted in June aimed at expanding access and success in completing postsecondary education, eliminating persistent and damaging equity gaps and significantly increasing the education levels of adults.
“For all of our work to be recognized by an organization as well-respected as Moody’s is extremely rewarding,” said Board of Regents Chairman Marty Chabert. “We know our work is critically important, but to get this outside validation of our ability to impact the economy through higher education is historic.”
During the 2019 Regular Legislative Session, higher education saw the first reinvestment in its base funding in a decade. The final version of the budget appropriated $1.062 billion in state general funds to postsecondary education, an increase of $47.2 million above the existing operating budget. In addition, the Legislature supported several strategic initiatives including textbook affordability, a dual enrollment task force, campus safety and continued support for TOPS.