LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - They say they can't handle more budget cuts, but both McNeese State University and Moss Regional Hospital could again face big reductions in tax dollars. House Speaker Chuck Kleckley spoke to the Kiwanis Club of Lake Charles Tuesday about the cuts.
"It is very important that we continuously monitor these cuts that are coming down from DHH (Department of Health and Hospitals) and for LSU," Kleckley said. "But I think the most important thing and the most critical thing for us here in southwest Louisiana is that we watch what's happening at Moss Regional."
The LSU system recently found out that more budget cuts will hit their hospitals. Cuts are nothing new to Moss Regional in Lake Charles, meaning they're already operating on a limited budget.
"Moss Regional has between 80 and 100 thousand outpatient visits annually," said Kleckley. "If something would happen where Moss Regional would close, our area hospitals couldn't handle that impact, and they couldn't handle the patients that would be there."
Kleckley says Moss Regional must stay open in southwest Louisiana. He said there are no other options and that he will do what he can to ensure the doors don't close.
"I think our delegation has to work very hard here in southwest Louisiana to keep LSU informed about how important Moss Regional is for southwest Louisiana and our community," Kleckley said.
Also operating on an extremely limited budget is McNeese.
"McNeese plays a very vital role in our economy here in southwest Louisiana," Kleckley said. "They have 9,000 students. They have 1,000 employees. Dr. Williams has communicated to me very clearly that McNeese cannot stand any more cuts. They are at the bone right now."
Higher education in Louisiana is too important to continuously be cut, Kleckley said, pledging to continue to support Moss Regional and McNeese.
"I think it's my responsibility as their state representative and as Speaker of the House, to make sure that higher ed is not cut anymore," Kleckley said. "That's what I'll continue to work with over the next three years as speaker, to make sure that those cuts are minimized."
Kleckley told Kiwanis members Tuesday that he will not vote for any legislation during the rest of his time in office that will cut funds to Moss Regional or McNeese.