Lawmakers unable to alleviate higher education woes
BATON ROUGE- Lawmakers had lots of questions for leaders of the state's higher education institutions, but offered few suggestions to cope with potentially crippling cuts.
In a unanimous voice, leaders of state run universities and junior colleges begged lawmakers to spare them from devastating cuts proposed in the next years budget.
In a worst case scenario, colleges face nearly $600 million dollars in cuts, a reduction of 82 percent of their state funding. Governor Bobby Jindal has proposed rolling back tax breaks to the tune of $372 million, a plan that relies on legislative support.
LSU President F. King Alexander has said if Jindal's tax break roll back doesn't get approved, then the campus will be forced to cancel thousands of classes and lay off hundreds of employees.
Even if Jindal's funding plan is approved, colleges would still face $220 million in cuts, Southern University president Ronald Mason said his system has already been cut to the limit and wouldn't survive any more reductions.
Representative Katrina Jackson (D-Monroe) is proposing raising taxes on alcohol to raise more revenue. However, Jindal has vowed to veto any tax that isn't offset by cut in spending in another area.
Louisiana is facing a $1.6 billion deficit in the upcoming budget year. Republican Representative Rob Shadoin of Lincoln Parish concedes its hard to find other areas to cut as most state spending is constitutionally protected.