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Strategic Budget Advisory Committee (SBAC)
Strategic Budget Advisory Committee

Louisiana's Public Colleges Prepare to Cut Costs

March 26, 2009

by Jan Moller
The Times-Picayune

BATON ROUGE -- Louisiana's higher-education systems would face budget cuts of between 6.6 percent and 11.4 percent next year under recommendations made public Wednesday by the state Board of Regents.

The suggested spending levels come as Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration has proposed cutting public colleges and universities by $219 million and changing the formula by which the schools are financed. The new formula is designed to reward schools for performance, not just enrollment.

In a break from past practice, Jindal's 2009-10 budget proposal did not include budgets for each of the four higher-education systems. Instead, it provides a single $2.9 billion allocation to the Board of Regents -- the policymaking body for higher education -- and leaves it up to the board to recommend how much each system should get.

Although the Louisiana State University System would face the largest overall cut, at $102 million, that represents a 6.6 percent reduction from the system's $1.56 billion current-year budget. The Southern University System, by contrast, faces the smallest numeric cut at $16.9 million, but that translates into the largest percentage cut at 11.4 percent.

The University of Louisiana System would be cut by $67 million, or 9.2 percent, while the Louisiana Community and Technical Colleges System would be chopped by $28.8 million, or 10.1 percent.

Ultimately it will be up to the Legislature to decide how much each system should receive. Lawmakers will convene for a two-month session starting April 27.

Once the budget is approved, it will be up to each of the four systems to decide how to divide the cuts among individual campuses. Higher education officials have said the cuts are likely to produce staff layoffs, larger class sizes and a reduction in programs and course offerings, among other things.

Jan Moller can be reached at jmoller@timespicayune.com or 225.342.5207.