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Hundreds of LSU students march to protest budget cuts

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BATON ROUGE - Hundreds of LSU students holding signs and wearing school colors marched to the steps of the Capitol Thursday to protest against further cuts to higher education.

The rally was organized through social media and called on students to show up to make lawmakers see who would be affected by more lost funding.

Student government president Andrew Mahtook said it was a chance for LSU's students to demonstrate to lawmakers they understand how high the stakes are getting.

"We'll get as fired up for an academic policy, as we will for a football game," Mahtook said. "This isn't just a football school, we're here for academics, and we're here to make a change."

Universities and colleges in the state are facing possible cuts of up to 80 percent from state funding as lawmakers grapple with a $1.6 billion budget deficit. LSU President F. King Alexander said if those cuts happen the school would have to declare an emergency and cut courses, tenured faculty and other areas so deep that the university might not recover.

Lawmakers took the first steps in finding a way through the budget situation this week as the House Ways and Means Committee advanced a series of bills to cut costs or raise revenue. Governor Bobby Jindal has said he'll veto any tax increases, and industry groups are opposing bills which could affect film tax credits or TOPS scholarship spending.

Alexander said the university is working with lawmakers and they're confident a compromise will be reached to avoid the worst of the cuts. The university is also pushing for more control over their finances, including the ability to raise tuition without legislative approval.

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