Louisiana Targets Payments to Consultants Teaching Social Skills

Louisiana lawmakers are considering cutting spending on consultants for services such as coordinating boxing tournaments and teaching kids social skills.

Legislation requiring a 10 percent cut in consulting payments moved to the state Senate after the House of Representatives approved the measure unanimously on April 23. The money that’s saved would be used for higher education.

Based on the $5.28 billion spent on consultants in 2012, the savings would be $528 million, according to a statement from state Treasurer John Kennedy, a Republican who backs the legislation.

“We’ve made draconian cuts to higher education,” Kennedy said in an interview. “Our consulting contracts haven’t been very well managed.”

State spending on colleges and universities has been cut almost 69 percent, to $525 million from $1.67 billion in 2008, said Kennedy. Tuition has risen fivefold, he said.

The bill faces “an uphill battle” in the Senate, where it has twice been defeated in the chamber’s finance committee, Kennedy said. Senator Jack Donahue, chairman of the committee, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

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