Newsmaker of the Week: LSU

    It’s become something of a routine for LSU President F. King Alexander to stress the economic and educational importance of Louisiana’s flagship university system to lawmakers debating yet another funding cut to offset yet another budget shortfall.

    Now, Alexander has a new set of numbers to back him up: LSU, according to a school study, had a $5.1 billion economic impact in the state last year, with East Baton Rouge Parish benefitting from $1.8 billion in economic activity and nearly 7,000 jobs from the university.

    The study, the first from LSU faculty that drills down into parish-level economic impact of the flagship system, is another proverbial arrow in the university’s quiver as it prepares for a new round of legislative hearings, where Alexander and others will undoubtedly highlight the billions of dollars at risk with more budget cuts.

    The calculated dollar impact of LSU shakes out to $1,097 per citizen, according to the report, done by the E.J. Ourso College of Business. Statewide, LSU is directly responsible for 41,006 jobs.

    The report also coincides with a statewide tour Alexander has embarked on, called “LSU 2025: Challenge Accepted | LSU’s Role in Addressing the Biggest Problems Facing our State and Nation.” That speaking circuit ties into the school’s new strategic plan, which Alexander has pitched as a renewal of the school’s land-grant mission, and a rededication to solving the state’s most difficult problems. Coastal erosion, poor health outcomes and energy are all on the list.

    LSU has—in some ways—gotten recent backing from Gov. John Bel Edwards and lawmakers, with the school not taking a budget cut last fiscal year despite continued budget woes.

    This year, though, with $1 billion in temporary taxes set to expire the Legislature is facing what’s being called a “fiscal cliff.” As per usual, health care and higher education are the biggest targets for budget cuts unless other fixes are found.

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