Budget proposes $71M in cuts to Louisiana colleges
Louisiana's public colleges face cuts of at least $71 million in next year's budget proposal, which awaits debate on the House floor this week, and higher education leaders will be pushing a bill to allow schools to raise new fees on students to cover the gap. Commissioner of Higher Education Jim Purcell says he received an estimate Monday of what cuts colleges and universities would take if the budget passes in its current form. Colleges had been proposed for standstill funding next year, but that was before the state's income forecasts fell more than $300 million. The House Appropriations Committee rebalanced the budget proposal to account for the revenue loss, levying cuts most heavily on higher education. Purcell says the governor's financial analysts foresee higher education being slashed by $71 million in the fiscal year that begins July 1. And that gouging could worsen if lawmakers make cuts to deal with a deficit in the current year or refuse to use some of the financing plans proposed for next year. "It does put us in a very difficult situation. My concern is that for some of the campuses it would be very painful," he says. In response, higher education leaders are working on a proposal to allow campuses to boost student fees by up to $25 per credit hour—which could raise as much as $107 million a year. Purcell says the idea could come up for debate in the House Education Committee on Wednesday. Read the full story by The Associated Press here.
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