A Message from the President
April 15, 2016
Earlier this week, Governor Edwards presented a revised Executive Budget for the 2016-2017 fiscal year that begins on July 1. The revision was necessary to reflect additional revenues resulting from the recent Special Session of the Louisiana Legislature.
While significant additional revenues were recognized as a result of measures enacted in the Special Session, next year's State budget is still projected to reflect a shortfall in excess of $700 million. Given the magnitude of the projected shortfall, the new proposed Executive Budget includes significant reductions across multiple State agencies with higher education proposed to receive a $46 million reduction in funding, which we anticipate likely would translate to approximately $1.7 million for Southeastern.
While no additional reduction is good news, this is clearly a much smaller reduction than might otherwise have been the case given the size of the overall State budget shortfall. We are grateful to Governor Edwards and his administration for continuing to seek ways to minimize further reductions in funding for higher education.
Unfortunately, the revised Executive Budget also leaves a significant shortfall in funding of approximately $180 million for the TOPS program, which would require nearly $300 million to be fully funded next year. Of course, this is a source of significant uncertainty for current and prospective students who had anticipated full TOPS awards this coming fall. Furthermore, student uncertainty translates to enrollment uncertainty for Southeastern and other institutions. I should remind everyone that Southeastern has the third largest number of TOPS recipients among Louisiana higher education institutions, so this is a very significant issue for our school.
Fortunately, there are still many weeks ahead for legislators and the administration to work on addressing the remaining shortfall in the budget, including the incomplete funding for TOPS. Governor Edwards has asserted that he will call another Special Legislative Session at the end of the current Session in June for the purpose of raising revenue to address any remaining State budget shortfall, as new revenue measures cannot be created during regular session in even-numbered years.
What all of this means is that there is much work to do in the weeks ahead. I continue to work with other higher education leaders and legislators to address these and other issues of importance to Southeastern and Louisiana higher education.
On a more positive note, I am very pleased to announce that Governor John Bel Edwards
has accepted our invitation to speak at our Spring Commencement ceremony on May 14. I know the campus community joins me in looking forward to hearing from Governor
Edwards in person.
John L. Crain