Message from the President

As you know from my budget updates in November, the Louisiana Revenue Estimating Conference recognized a $370 million mid-year shortfall in the State budget. Likewise, as the books were closed on last year’s State budget, there was a shortfall recognized for that fiscal year as well.

At that time Governor Jindal’s administration proposed a plan to address the immediate shortfall without imposing additional reductions in funding for higher education.

Appropriately, I have been asked whether, given these developments, we will move forward with the raise plan announced at the Fall Convocation. My response to that question has been, and continues to be, that we will delay proceeding with the raise plan until a few other uncertainties are known.

Specifically, Governor Jindal’s plan to address the mid-year budget shortfall relies, in part, on use of money from the State’s Budget Stabilization (Rainy-Day) Fund. This action requires approval of the Legislature through a mail ballot which is not due back from legislators for a couple of weeks.

Additionally, the announced plan to address the shortfall has created a great deal of concern among legislators and others that it will precipitate further shortfalls later in the current fiscal year. Accordingly, Governor-elect Edwards has announced plans to call a special legislative session early this spring to address the State budget.

While I understand and share everyone’s desire to move forward with the raise plan, I believe we should be prudent and wait until we know the outcome of some of these significant factors.

Like everyone else involved in higher education in our State, I am hopeful and confident that Governor-elect Edwards will work to fulfill his campaign pledges to resolve the State’s ongoing budget shortfalls and support higher education. However, I also know that most of the long-term solutions cannot be unilaterally enacted by the Governor and require action by the Legislature.

We have endured a long, dark budget journey in recent years, and we all are ready for the sun to come out. But, we have to be patient while the transition in Administrations occurs, and give the new Governor an opportunity to work with others to develop and implement solutions.

As always, I will keep the campus apprised of significant developments.

John L. Crain