Governor Jindal is threatening to cut funding to higher education in Louisiana yet again. He says the state’s universities and colleges should expect another $200-$300 million cut for next year because of revenue loss due to low gas prices.
However, gas prices have been high in the years since 2008 when a total of $673 million in budget cuts to higher education were made. This begs the question, what is Jindal’s real agenda in systematically crippling higher education in the state?
That $673 million in budget cuts is money every year that colleges no longer have to fund their programs and offer services to students. Tuition increases do not offset these cuts, not by a long shot.
Most, if not all, of the nine regional state universities in the University of Louisiana System have had to terminate degree programs, cut many faculty and staff, enact hiring freezes, eliminate cost of living and merit raises, and make significant cuts across the board to services and programs in order to penny pinch. Our faculty are already among the lowest-paid on average in the nation and there is no fat left to trim.
If Jindal gets the legislature to approve a new budget with another round of huge cuts to higher education, more programs and even whole campuses will likely disappear. This will then force students to look beyond their regional universities — if they are left with one — and perhaps even beyond their state in order to get the quality degree they want.
If you live in Louisiana, please contact your local state legislators and ask them to support higher education. Your voice needs to be heard, and it needs to be heard now.
To look up contact information for your local legislators, simply visit: legis.la.gov/legis.
Michael S. Jeffress, Ph.D.,