Yesterday, the Revenue Estimating Conference recognized new revenue generated from the special session, but the state’s budget is still approximately $66 million short for the current year. We expect to be notified of the actual cuts to higher education and to LSU, specifically, early next week. It is important to remember that we simply don't have the official numbers yet, but we know the Governor and others are working to mitigate any cuts to higher education. The Legislature also could take some actions to mitigate the cuts, but that window of opportunity is closing rapidly.
To drive home LSU’s value to the state and our consistently high level of performance, I addressed the House Education Committee yesterday to once again express my concern about our budget situation. I reminded the members that though they are about to begin debating next fiscal year, we are still trying to deal with what could potentially be the largest mid-year cut in the history of our university. Most distressing is the additional cut attributable to a shortfall in the TOPS budget, a cut based upon the enrollment of the most talented students.
In spite of these challenging circumstances, LSU continues to produce finalists and winners of national awards, such as Truman Scholars, and continues to help solve the state’s biggest problems, such as diabetes, obesity, coastal land loss, and cancer. LSU positively impacts every corner of the state, not only by educating students from every parish, but by providing outreach and service programs like 4-H and agricultural research stations across Louisiana. While LSU has continued to improve the academic quality, diversity and graduation rate of its students, the state has continued to cut us, which has occurred 14 times in the last 9 years. This is troubling, as we believe performance should be rewarded, and we will continue to stress this fact with those who talk about the importance of performance and demonstrating strong educational outcomes.
LSU’s budget should be viewed as an investment in our state’s future success. Our supporters and alumni are taking up our cause, and you can view, or even join, their efforts through Tiger Advocates, Fight4LSU on Facebook, and @fight4_LSU on Twitter. We will continue to post the latest information on lsu.edu/budget. And as always, thank you for everything you do to make LSU the wonderful place it is.
F. King Alexander