Former State Representative Vic Stelly says he's tired of people trying to put a happy face on what he considers disastrous cuts to higher education in Louisiana.
So, he's resigning his post on the Louisiana Board of Regents. Stelly is known for taking a firm stand and doing what he thinks is right.
And now, his resignation from Board of Regents may serve as a sort of call to arms for those who want to fight for higher education in Louisiana.
"Five and a half years ago Stelly sought appointment to the Board of Regents, thinking with his educational and legislative backgrounds, the post would be right up his alley. But, "At this point I've become completely disappointed and disillusioned with the state's priority put on higher ed and I've decided to resign," he said.
The budget cuts that have come to pass have left him frustrated and, in his words, with a very negative attitude. "We spend 11% of our budget on higher ed. Mississippi, who we always made fun of, spends 17.7% We just do not put as high a priority on higher ed which is our only way out of poverty. And we're next to last in America in per capita income. If government does not provide education, what are we there for?" said Stelly.
According to Stelly, since 2008, McNeese alone has seen funding cut from $41 million dollars to $22.8 million. Said Stelly, "2008 the State of Louisiana funded education at the Southern Regional average for the first time in 25 years and we were dancing in the street, everybody was so happy to be average. I mean can you imagine McNeese being five and five next year, we're all high fiving each other. Since then it's been downhill. We're wishing we were average. We have cut almost half a billion dollars off the higher ed budget with no end in sight," said Stelly.
Stelly called himself a sort of a voice in the wilderness because, said Stelly, higher ed people can't say much. He expressed hope that speaking out might do some good. "Maybe if one person speaks out it may be better than just folks saying, 'well, they cut McNeese again, ho hum. What are we going to have for supper? This is serious. This is serious. McNeese is important to us, LSU is important to us, higher ed is important to us," said Stelly.
The governor appoints members to the board of regents. No word yet on whether Bobby Jindal has any comment or who will replace Stelly. Stelly's resignation is effective Friday.
The former lawmaker is well known for his Stelly plan aimed at shifting the tax burden from rich to poor and he has been inducted into the Louisiana Political Hall of Fame.