Governor Delays Cut To Higher Education
Governor John Bel Edwards has delayed an $18 million cut to public colleges as part of his plan to eliminate a $313 million budget deficit. The governor did so at the request of legislators, who expressed concern at today’s budget meeting about another funding cut to higher ed. Monroe Representative Katrina Jackson asks for another month to see if there’s a way they can cut the budget, without impacting universities.
“I think you guys do an excellent job. I know your commitment is to higher education, but I think policies and cuts and weighing and balancing is stronger when everybody has input” Jackson said.
Prairieville Representative Tony Bacala says he doesn’t understand why higher education is taking the brunt of the cuts, but the Louisiana Department of Health isn’t taking any. He says the higher ed budget has increased by $200 million in the last four years, but LDH’s budget has seen a $1.4 billion hike.
“The ratio is 7 times higher than the LDH hit. So even though the numbers may look comparable, there’s a percentage of budget. It’s 7 times harder on higher education, and I don’t think that’s shared burden,” Bacala said.
The Revenue Estimating Conference meets again December, and there’s a chance the state’s budget shortfall could increase by then. New Orleans Senator JP Morrel says by putting this cut off until next month, the ball is now in the legislature’s court.
“If you don’t like the cuts, come up with the alternatives. The reality is that at the end of the day, no matter what we do, somebody’s not going to get paid, and somebody’s going to get hurt. That’s what cuts are,” Morrel said.