Higher Education Commissioner Joe Rallo is planning to hold regular meetings with various stakeholders from across the state during the upcoming legislative session.

The new “Commissioner’s Roundtable” initiative has been planned as a way to keep business and industry leaders, faculty, staff and others outside of Baton Rouge engaged in legislative issues related that will impact higher ed throughout the session.

Rallo, who took on the job in January, set out on a statewide listening tour earlier this year. He has since met with more than 1,000 people across 45 parishes.

“During all statewide visits, there was a reoccurring concern over the budget, and all stakeholders pledged their support and verbalized their willingness to be involved in the upcoming legislative process,” Rallo said. “We look forward to partnering with the various groups that have expressed interest.”

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s executive budget proposal has a $211 million funding gap for higher education that leaders say they are hoping to fill through various measures, including student fees, efficiencies through flexibility and other sources of state funding.

According to Rallo, he and other state higher education leaders have been meeting with legislators and the Jindal administration to identify short-term and long-term budget solutions.

“We remain focused and committed in our pursuit. Business and Industry are depending on us, our students are depending on us. We cannot let them down,” he said.

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