A Message from the President
February 12, 2016
Last night, in an unprecedented statewide television address, Governor John Bel Edwards outlined the magnitude of the current financial challenges facing Louisiana and the potential dire impacts on state services, including higher education. As one example, given the immediate fiscal year shortfall, the state has suspended the process whereby colleges and universities are reimbursed for TOPS scholarship awards.
The Governor’s Administration will present its proposed 2016-17 Executive Budget tomorrow, February 13. Given current revenue projections, that budget is expected to propose significant reductions across state agencies.
A Special Legislative Session will convene on Sunday, February 14, during which the Legislature and Governor will work to mitigate the $900+ million shortfall in this year’s budget as well as the $2 billion expected shortfall in next year’s budget.
What does all this mean for Southeastern?
As I shared in prior campus updates, we have been asked to plan for potential reductions in state funding for the remainder of the current fiscal year and next. We have also been asked to work with members of our legislative delegation, encouraging them to work with the Governor to resolve the state budget crisis in order to avoid these potential reductions. We have also been asked to communicate with our alumni and community supporters, asking them to encourage legislators to make funding for higher education a priority.
There are countless opinions and media reports swirling around as the Governor and Legislature prepare to address the budget crisis. In my January 25 Campus Budget Update, I stated that there would be “disquieting” days ahead as potentially devastating impacts from various budget-cut scenarios played out in the media. Those days are now upon us.
The potential budget cuts are very real, and we must work diligently with our elected leaders and others to ensure that sustainable solutions are implemented. But, these are also going to be potentially disquieting days for our students and potential students, and we must work to assure them that we remain committed to their education.
As always, I will keep the campus community apprised of new developments.
John L. Crain