View “Solve the Budget” here: vimeo.com/album/3849723
View photos from “Solve the Budget” here: http://on.fb.me/1RZUIPr
By Jared Joseph
Monday night in the Holliday Forum, the Manship School of Mass Communication hosted “Solve the Budget,” where Manship students and professional experts discussed Louisiana’s current budget crisis.
Jack Richards, Kaylyn Blosser and Margaret Manning were the part of the student panel, while the expert panel included various professions from journalists to professors. Dr. Jim Richardson, Dr. Belinda Davis, Jan Moller, Steve Winham and Scott Kirkpatrick were part of the professional panel, and Gordon Russell was the moderator for the event.
Some of the main talking points for the discussion included the impact the budget crisis will have on TOPS, how much of the current spending is a cause for the budget problem and how this current crisis will impact future fiscal years.
While discussing the issue with spending, the panel spoke about how it is impossible to balance the budget off of business contracts. “The really big contracts are things nobody will cut such as hospitals,” said Moller. Moller also says that two factors from the Jindal governing years are contributors to the current budget situation: Jindal’s mismanagement of the budget during his terms are one cause, and the second cause, not within Jindal’s control, was the drop in oil prices.
When TOPS was the topic of discussion, the panel suggested that TOPS was a program which needed major changing because those who benefit from it are not diverse enough. Winham spoke about the issues with eligibility and that they need reform. “The academic standard for TOPS is too low…I don’t know what the magical number is,” said Winham. Davis states TOPS original purpose was to increase the number of graduates but also said preparation for college was another issue which needed fixing. “We are failing our students at elementary and secondary levels. We’re not preparing them for college.”
The consensus among the professional panel was that this fiscal year will conclude with a short team resolution, but issues will continue to rise unless there is structural reform for the budget. Dr. Richardson said regardless of party affiliation that political leaders will spend available money and the budget will be in an unfortunate situation once again.
On a final note, Moller noted that it has not been true for 20 years that people abuse the welfare system, where a person collects a check without working, and Winham said that no one person knows everything to fix the budget.
The Manship School’s Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs along with WWNO New Orleans Public Radio are hosting a Louisiana budget panel discussion in which students and experts will deliberate the current budget crisis in the state.
“Solve the Budget” will take place Monday, March 7 at 5:30 p.m. in LSU’s Journalism Building’s Holliday Forum. The discussion will center on Louisiana’s current budget deficit, which lawmakers are calling the biggest financial hole Louisiana has ever seen.
Panelists will include LSU students, journalists, LSU faculty, representatives from the Louisiana Budget Project and former state budget directors including Jim Richardson, Professor of Economics and Public Administration, LSU; Belinda Davis, Associate Professor, Political Science and Associate Director of the Public Policy Research Lab, LSU; Jan Moller, Director, Louisiana Budget Project; Steve Winham, former Director of State of the Louisiana Executive Budget Office; and moderator Gordon Russell, Managing Editor of Investigations, The Advocate.
This event will be open to the public. Students, alumni, friends of the school, media and other members of the community are encouraged to participate as questions will be taken from the audience. A light reception will follow immediately after.
This panel discussion is a part of a series of events the Manship School and The Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs will host leading up to the 2016 presidential election, emphasizing the Manship School’s commitment and focus on media and public affairs.