More cuts expected to higher education


Cue the guitars. Count us off drummer boy. Here I go again singing my same ole tune about the importance of higher education in our state, while our Governor continues to shut down my concert. Another year, another cut.

Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration have announced Louisiana's colleges and universities should be prepared to sustain anywhere from $200 million to $300 million in cuts during the 2015-2016 school year.

I’ve cried about the quality of education that’s needed to progress the society, which becoming more technology based by the second. I’ve sung about exposing our people to education, which is key to creating productive citizens. I’ve barked about the dumbing down of people to only feel qualified to work blue-collar jobs. Surely those jobs pay the bills but are they all we’re good enough for here in Louisiana?

This $200 million to $300 million cut statewide is more than many institutions operate on. LSU operates on a $975 million budget, so can you imagine the smaller institutions getting a piece of a percentage to accumulate say $300 million in cuts.

Legislators, including House Speaker Chuck Kleckley and state Senate Finance chairman Jack Donahue, finally are speaking up and out to Jindal in the last year of his term. Kleckley has been known to be one of Jindal’s best allies, but now even he doesn’t see how higher education can survive with a cut like this.

Louisiana, over the past seven years, has already cut more money on a per-student basis from higher education than almost any other state in the country. Since 2008, the state has slashed higher education funding by $673 million. But a $300 million reduction to higher education would be the largest one-year cut in recent memory.

Meghan Parrish, a spokesperson for Jindal’s Division of Administration, said the administration is open to ideas on how to shrink the cut. But we have to keep in mind the fact that any slashing would fall on top of $700 million in-state financing reductions that college campuses and higher education offices have taken since 2008.

We all need to keep an eye out on what the legislature decides this spring. Oil prices are down and that hurts Louisiana’s economy, but it goes back to Jindal only looking to bring industry based jobs to the state. Our economy has become dependent on that, and in a technology based future ahead of us we need to find ways to educate the population. We need to find innovative ways to boost the economy. It shouldn’t always be about backbreaking labor-intensive jobs.

Lawmakers will devise a final version of next year’s spending plans in the two-month legislative session that begins April 13.

By the end of this, either I’ll be a one-man band or a million-man march. Either way, I shall sing on advocating higher education.