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BATON ROUGE - An overhaul of state tax credits, smaller cuts to higher education and the reduction of hundreds of state workers are all part of the Jindal administration's plan to fill a $1.6 billion budget hole.

Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols unveiled the proposed executive budget to lawmakers Friday. In all, 727 state jobs will be eliminated, bringing Louisiana's state government employment level to its lowest mark in 25 years.

Higher education faces a $141.3 million cut in the proposed budget, less than the $300 million to $400 million university leaders said they were originally warned about but still another in a string of reductions universities have had to face since 2008.

Southern University System President Ronald Mason Jr. released a statement which said colleges in the state are so troubled already, the only way they can manage is with zero cuts.

""While the budget cuts to higher education included in the proposed budget for 2015-2016 are much less than anticipated, they are still significant," Mason said. "We are hopeful and will continue working with the Governor and the Legislature to come up with solutions to ensure the survival of public universities in Louisiana, and secure the future of our state."

LSU President F. King Alexander said they were also working on solutions to share with lawmakers for more financial stability.

"This is the beginning of a long process where we will work with the Legislature and the Governor to ultimately restore funding for public higher education to its appropriate levels," Alexander said.

Revenues raised by changing $525 million worth of refundable tax credits to non-refundable credits make up 34 percent of revenues raised to fill the hole. That could put Jindal at odds with business leaders, since the credits hit many different parts of the state economy.

Jindal also claimed in the budget that one third of the billion-dollar gap is due to falling oil revenues. On Thursday a Legislative Fiscal Office report said the use of one-time, ad hoc savings and money sources to fill gaps affected the budget more than oil prices did.

Click here to read the Jindal administration's budget presentation. News 2's Mark Armstrong will have more on reaction to the proposal tonight.


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