Message from the President
June 26, 2018
Apparently, the Louisiana Legislature had been counting on the often-heard idiom, "Third time's the charm." In this year's third special session which ended Sunday, the Legislature finally agreed to a solution that allows the state to avert theJuly 1 fiscal cliff that was rapidly approaching.
One percent of the five percent sales tax levied by the state of Louisiana was set to expire June 30, leaving a large gap in state revenue that would have led to significant reductions in funding to state agencies, including higher education. Over the weekend, the Legislature agreed to extend 45/100 of the expiring one percent sales tax. This renewal, in conjunction with several other measures, provides funding for the continuation of vital state services, including higher education. Importantly, the sales tax renewal extends to 2025 which should lead to greater stability in state finances going forward.
The Legislature also approved a state budget for next fiscal year that includes full funding for TOPS scholarships and stable funding for higher education overall, although we do not know the specific distribution of funds to individual institutions based on a funding formula yet to be finalized by the Louisiana Board of Regents.
Governor John Bel Edwards is expected to sign both the sales tax extension and the state budget proposed by the Legislature.
I want to thank Governor Edwards and the local legislators who supported the sales tax legislation as well as full funding for TOPS and stable funding for higher education.
Over this year’s three special sessions and regular legislative session there were some difficult and tense times at the Capitol, but ultimately many of our leaders and elected officials recognized and supported the important work of our state’s higher education institutions, including Southeastern.
I want to thank Mr. Alejandro "Al" Perkins, Chair of our Board of Supervisors, who along with the other Board members advocated tirelessly for the University of Louisiana System, its nine institutions and over 90,000 students. Likewise, I want to express gratitude to Dr. Jim Henderson, President of the University of Louisiana System, for his vision and guidance. His leadership was invaluable in providing a coordinated and unified message from our System institutions to our state leaders. We were also fortunate that many constituents, including parents, alumni, faculty/staff and community members championed the interests of Southeastern and higher education. Finally, I want to thank our students, so many of whom were very much engaged in the legislative process this year.
At present, there are many exciting things happening around campus: new facilities; revitalized and expanded programs; an increase in summer semester enrollment; anticipated strong enrollment for the fall semester; and the ongoing development of Vision 2025, our next strategic plan.
There is a renewed sense of energy, enthusiasm and optimism at Southeastern, and I am thrilled that the momentum can continue without the fiscal disruptions that would have occurred had our State leaders not taken action.
I want to thank our faculty and staff for their ongoing commitment to the success of our students, and I hope everyone has an enjoyable rest of the summer -- I know I will.
John L. Crain