NPR News, Classical and Music of the Delta
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Legislators Urged To Support Higher Ed


Legislators, city officials, and business leaders spoke to University of Louisiana at Monroe students, faculty, and community members about proposed cuts to the state's public colleges and universities.  The forum was hosted by the ULM Faculty Senate, Staff Senate, and Student Government Association.

Faculty Senate President Dr. Joshua Stockley noted that higher education is key to the state's workforce.  He says legislators need to be reminded of that importance as they delve into budget talks when session begins April 13.  "Higher education is at a critical state," said Stockley.  "Further cuts don't just hurt the system today, but begin to make irreparable damage to higher ed's future," he added.

Louisiana's legislature has cut $700 million over the last eight years.  For next fiscal year, proposals of up to $600 million slashed from public colleges and universities are being offered to help balance a budget that's stands to be $1.6 billion in the red.

State Senator Francis Thompson urged fellow legislators to turn the tide on higher ed cuts.  "I'm tired of hearing do more with less, it's time to do more with more, and instead of 'followship', have leadership," he strongly proclaimed to applause from the audience.

Monroe Representative Katrina Jackson hopes to secure revenue for higher ed in the upcoming session.  She's sponsoring an omnibus package of bills that would address the state's $7 billion tax exemption budget. "We're going to have to decrease that exemption budget.  That includes corporations and individuals, but most of that is corporate tax exemptions and rebates," said Jackson.

Rep. Bubba Cheney, who sits on the House Appropriations Committee, says he like what he sees in the exemption plan.  "It would bring alot of revenue into higher education, but much of what was discussed today is going to require passage of alot measures to make it happen," said Chaney.