More cuts for higher education: UPDATE - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

More cuts for higher education: UPDATE

By Adam Hooper - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - UPDATE:  2.2 million dollars, gone form their budget, and this is not the first time, this year, McNeese has had to make cuts. Record enrollment will ease the burden.

"We will be able to come up with that money, and part of the reason we will be able to do that, is because we have had two very, very good enrollment increases," said Candace Townsend with McNeese State University.

For the last ten weeks of this fiscal year, Governor Bobby Jindal has issued an executive order freezing all spending, state wide, to help cover the state's 319-million dollar shortfall.

Despite the large decrease of funding, McNeese said they will be offering summer school and intercession courses, between the spring and summer semesters. Keeping those services does not come without a price. 

"We're not buying supplies, we're not buying equipment. We're not making technology upgrades, we're not hiring non-essential critical positions. We're not buying library books, we're not renewing subscriptions. We're not traveling," said Townsend. "It's very difficult. It is very difficult to know that if a computer breaks, or a copier breaks, there probably is no way to get special dispensation to get that fixed, and you are going to have to work around it."

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Recently, Louisiana universities were told to prepare for the possibility of operating with even less. The McNJeese administration began looking at where more cuts could be made. All travel was canceled, positions have been left open, and equipment purchases were put on hold. These are all changes McNeese officials were hoping would only be temporary.

On March,25 2010 Candace Townsend, with McNeese State University said the university had already started to take a proactive approach to the situation. "What we are doing now is, if in two or three weeks we are notified of another cut, that we will have the funds available to be able to cut."

According to Dr. Randy Moffett, President of the Louisiana University System, it is round number four of cuts for higher education. To prevent such a shortfall for higher education in the upcoming fiscal year, Governor Bobby Jindal proposes a plan that would prevent education, and healthcare from being the first to get receive cuts.

"What we are not doing is asking the colleges to impose additional cuts next year. Instead, we are saying, let's continue to make education and healthcare a priority. We have proposed several changes in our constitution to unlock those dedicated funds," said Governor Jindal.

If the Governor's plan were to pass, this would prevent 60-percent of the state's budget from being automatically dedicated  to certain spending areas.

Copyright 2010 KPLC. All rights reserved.

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