Colleges not getting a budget boost this year
BATON ROUGE - Public colleges won't get any extra money from the state this year under a Jindal administration plan to use $147 million in federal education cash to offset budget cuts.
Michael DiResto, a spokesman for the governor's financial office, said Thursday that the complex plan will shuffle all the money into the upcoming 2011-12 budget year, to help cope with a $1.5 billion budget shortfall. Some of that $147 million will be used to stop cuts to higher education, but DiResto wouldn't say how much.
State Superintendent of Education Paul Pastorek broke the news Wednesday to local school superintendents that the federal education money won't be used to give them a new influx of cash as they had expected, because Gov. Bobby Jindal wants to use the money to fill budget gaps.
State lawmakers will have to approve the plans before they can take effect.
The education money was part of a $26 billion jobs stimulus bill approved by Congress in August. Federal guidelines require districts to use the money to pay salaries and benefits for teachers, school administrators and other staff.
In a series of budget maneuvers, DiResto said the plan involves putting the $147 million into the state funding formula for local school districts to meet federal requirements for spending, but then removing the same amount of state general fund money to pay for other items.
At least $68 million must be used to pay for higher education or Louisiana wouldn't meet the federal education funding criteria to even draw down the $147 million, DiResto said. But then another $68 million in college's self-generated dollars, like tuition and fees, will be held from this year and rolled into next year's budget.
The outcome leaves the colleges and school districts with no new money for this year - and the $147 million preserved to help with next year's shortfall.