This week brought both good and bad news from the Capitol. The good news is that the Senate identified funds to help offset a portion of cuts and the House of Representatives approved a cigarette tax that will generate revenue and lessen the budget shortfall.
Now, for the bad news: higher education still makes up about $70 million of the cuts. For this campus, the proposed cut amounts to $17 million, of which $10 million has been directed to us due to the reduction in TOPS support.
Let me be clear: we have seen progress, but we also still have a long way to go. While 40% of the problem has been permanently resolved through budget cuts, the other 60% will have to be fixed through a combination of revenues and more cuts – with only five days left in special session. That’s $390 million in approved cuts, but $315 million in revenue measures and $256 million in proposed cuts that have not yet been finalized.
A few key points to keep in mind:
- Revenue measures for both the current and next fiscal years can only be considered in special session, which lasts 5 more days.
- More than $570 million of the current-year budget problem is not resolved. A cut of this size will significantly harm our education, research and outreach missions.
- The $10 million cut due to the TOPS shortfall essentially penalizes LSU for having the best and brightest students in the state.
- The state has not yet resolved the budget gap for FY 2017.
Please keep educating your legislators and neighbors about the significant role LSU plays in Louisiana’s future success.
As always, thank you for your tireless efforts in supporting our great university. If we all speak with one voice, we can make a difference.
F. King Alexander