Louisiana cuts education funding

This story was published in The Hullabaloo on October 8, 2010.

Because of a unique mix of post-Katrina events, existing fiscal policy and political will, Louisiana may have to slash up to 73.5 percent of its portion of the budget allocated for healthcare and higher education spending between now and July 2011 to make up for expected losses.

As federal stimulus funding is set to run out in July 2011, many states are facing massive budget cuts across the board. At Louisiana State University, cuts of this magnitude translate into losses of $62 million for fiscal year 2011 – 2012, which could result in roughly 700 layoffs, the closure of seven of its 14 schools and the elimination of one-third of its degree programs.

“We do not know what lies ahead or what we will be asked to do next,” LSU Chancellor Michael Martin said, according to his website, LSUBudget Impact. “But we will continue to make the case to all constituents as forcibly as possible that these cuts would be destructive to the state’s flagship institution, catastrophic to the local economy and disastrous for the future education of the children of Louisiana.”

In a conference call with college journalists on Monday, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said that while he understood the severity of the Louisiana budget cuts, there is not much the federal government can do.

“I don’t know how much we could intervene with the state legislature,” Duncan said. “Many of these issues at the local level we can’t control at the federal level. But I will look at legal remedies.”

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