March 1: Special Session Update

As members of the House and Senate continue to negotiate solutions to solve Louisiana’s budget crisis, higher education is again on the cutting floor.

Members need to add $75M in funding to higher education to prevent yet another cut to Louisiana’s colleges and universities.  After eight years of budget reductions, any cut to higher education should be off the table in those negotiations.

To make up cuts in state funding to colleges and universities, Louisiana has raised tuition on Louisiana students and their families by 99%. Unfortunately, those increases were not used to provide new enhancements at our colleges and universities, but to maintain the status quo. Tuition increases were followed by reductions in state funding from universities and colleges which were then added to the budgets of other state agencies.

The Louisiana Legislative Auditor recently released a report on the increase in tax credits and exemptions granted by state agencies, which is depicted in the chart below:

While state support has increased in some areas of state government, state support for higher education has been cut by $683M. To balance the needs of the state and its future, our legislators have difficult decisions to make. Our colleges and universities are already funded at the lowest level of any state in the South and near the bottom in the nation.

To prevent another cut to higher education, legislators must add $75M of funding to higher education before March 9.  Higher education funding is an investment in the state’s future and needs to be a priority again.