From the desk of Interim President Dan Reneau
As we approach the final quarter of Louisiana’s regular legislative session, the biggest question is what the state budget will look like on June 6. Unfortunately the budget conversation is once again dominated by cutting rather than funding. Louisiana’s higher education system is familiar with cuts. In fact, Louisiana leads the nation in higher education disinvestment. State support for public postsecondary institutions has been cut by $683 million since 2008.
Our universities have answered cut after cut by eliminating administrative costs, staff and programs and we find ourselves in a place that any cut-however minor-will have a large impact on campuses. Students will see more programs eliminated, larger class sizes, higher tuition and fewer services.
The chart below is a powerful illustration comparing Louisiana’s support of higher education and its support of corporations. Changing the disproportion of corporate tax collection versus corporate tax exemptions would positively impact the state’s budget situation.
Louisiana is ranked 48th in educational attainment. College graduates contribute far more income tax than those without a degree. An educated citizenry would be a huge step toward fixing a lot of our state’s problems-poverty, crime and incarceration.
I encourage all those who have been impacted by the University of Louisiana system-alumni, faculty, staff, friends and family members-to reach out to your legislators and encourage our leaders to shift the budget priorities to higher education. Our state’s future depends on it.