A Message from the President

Today Governor Jindal's administration submitted the proposed executive budget for the State of Louisiana for next fiscal year to the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget. As anticipated, in order to accommodate the projected shortfall in State revenues next year, the Governor's budget reflects significant reductions in spending for higher education and health care.

However, the governor's budget also proposes other changes that might generate additional resources, with some of these potential funds directed to offset reductions in support for higher education. The most significant change would be to scale back several "refundable" tax credits, potentially generating more than $500 million in additional resources. The Governor proposes to use $376 million of this amount to partially mitigate the cuts to higher education, with various other measures suggested as solutions to further reduce the cuts.

Of course, all these proposed "solutions" must be enacted by the Legislature during the upcoming Session. Additionally, it is still unclear exactly how much relief would be realized by some of the Governor's proposals.

As daunting as the potential cut to higher education is, I am encouraged by several things.

First, efforts and communications by higher education leadership have been clear and consistent. As you may have seen in the recent email message from ULS President Sandra Woodley, State higher education leaders, speaking with one voice, sent Governor Jindal specific information about the needs and expectations of higher education for the next fiscal year.

Second, advocacy efforts with community and business partners have established an expectation with State leaders that reasonable solutions to the State's budget problems and higher education funding must be found. As a result, the Governor and other elected officials have made discernible movement on certain fiscal issues that open the door to potential solutions that have previously not been viable.

Finally, as I indicated in my last campus update, I continue to see widespread determination on the part of legislators to find and support solutions to the potential reductions for higher education.

As I have emphasized in my prior campus updates, these are the initial stages in the State budget process. Unfortunately, between now and the end of the Legislative Session in June, there will be many ups and downs, with commensurate reports appearing in the media.

I ask that you continue to focus on executing our mission to serve our students. I will continue to advocate for our institution with legislators and other leaders. As always, I will also keep you apprised as developments occur.

John L. Crain