I realize that everyone is anxious to learn more about the budget situation for the upcoming fiscal year. So am I. We have a little more clarity on Gov. Jindal’s executive budget that he proposed late last month. As I communicated to you previously, the recommended budget contains significant cuts to higher education in order to make up the state’s $1.6 billion deficit.
The governor’s budget stated that the cut to public higher education would be $141 million, and he would like to see lawmakers adopt additional measures to further reduce that cut. That figure does not include a $70 million tuition swap. A tuition swap means institutions are allowed to raise tuition but the anticipated extra revenue is taken out of the institution’s state funding; essentially we can’t keep the extra money generated from tuition increases. The governor’s $141 million figure also assumes that his proposal to scale back a tax credit will generate another $372 million for colleges and universities. It is not certain if lawmakers will adopt this approach and the money will materialize. In fact if this contingency funding doesn’t work out, the cut to higher education will be more than $600 million, when you consider increased mandated costs.
I mention all of this to say there remains substantial uncertainty about next year’s budget. I continue to meet with state legislators, members of the business community, higher education leaders and alumni to convey the message that higher education can’t be cut anymore. We have already suffered enough. Any further reductions in our state budget will greatly harm all college students in Louisiana as well as the economic prospects of our state.
We should have a bit more guidance on the level of our cut after the Board of Regents holds its March 25 meeting. I will provide you with an update when we know more. If you’d like to sign up for the University of Louisiana System’s weekly budget briefings, or review past presentations, click here.
Thank you for all of your contributions to the University of New Orleans.
President Peter J. Fos