McNeese faces $8M cut

The following is a Press Release from McNeese State University:

If the budget bill (HB1) currently moving through the Louisiana Legislature is not amended, McNeese State University is slated to lose $8.8 million in state appropriations.

This will bring McNeese's total state funding reductions since Fiscal Year 2008/09 to $25.4 million (56 percent). As the current budget proposal stands, total reductions in state general fund support for all of higher education since FY 2008/09 would reach $585 million.

"The size of this reduction comes at a most unfortunate time. Just when the community has expressed its support for a number of extremely exciting and cost-effective educational initiatives that will enhance regional economic and workforce development, the loss of

$8.8 million could force McNeese to delay or even scrap those much-needed projects. I have been heartened, however, by the expressions of support that I have received from key members of the Southwest Louisiana delegation," said McNeese President Philip Williams.

Over 70 percent of the State of Louisiana's operating budget is protected through constitutional or statutory dedications, federal mandates and unavoidable obligations. Higher education does not enjoy any constitutional protection from cuts. Consequently, when the state faces significant shortfalls, higher education, along with health care, takes the brunt of the reductions.  

"Higher education has been notified that of the $268 million shortfall in the budget for next year, $134 million will be taken from our allocations," said University of Louisiana System President Randy Moffett.

Over the past four years, reductions to higher education have been mitigated in part by one-time funding and raising tuition and fees. Even with modest increases in tuition over the last few years, it has not been enough to close the gap in funding. Since FY 2008/09, McNeese's net total funding reduction would be $16.5 million (23 percent) given the current budget scenario.

To date, McNeese has taken several steps to address declining resources such as "administrative reorganization, an early retirement incentive plan for tenured faculty, cutting over 90 positions campus-wide, eliminating four academic programs and consolidating 14 others, freezing salaries and curtailing travel and non-essential purchases," Williams said.

"The additional loss of $8.8 million may result in further reduction in workforce numbers, leading to fewer or delayed class offerings, larger class sizes, delayed administrative services and lower employee morale," said Williams.