Funding cuts to state universities harm Louisiana

The Louisiana State Legislature’s failure to adequately fund Louisiana State University and other public universities harms the entire state, including the Tulane community.

LSU president and chancellor King Alexander announced Wednesday that the university has begun drafting the paperwork necessary to declare financial exigency since the legislature has made no progress toward making back an 82 percent budget reduction to public higher education, according to declaration of financial exigency declares that a university is in such dire financial conditions that major overhauls are needed. It makes it easier for universities to lay off tenured faculty and cut programs.

If no additional funding is found, LSU’s funding per undergraduate student would fall from $3,500 to $660 per student, less than many states provide for their community colleges.

The legislature’s unwillingness to fund public higher education threatens many aspects of the state. LSU, the state’s major public research university, will be unable to attract the nation’s top researchers and teachers. The state will then lose out on research grants and findings that provide economic growth.

Top-notch Louisiana students will leave the state to attend universities with better faculty and resources. LSU will also be unable to recruit talented out-of-state students. A generation of future leaders and job-creators will take their talents out of state.

This neglect for public education also harms the state’s private institutions, like Tulane. Their recruitment of top-notch faculty will be hampered, as parents will be less likely to move their children to a state that doesn’t value education. Companies who hire Tulane graduates will be less likely to move into the state or expand if they cannot also hire highly qualified students from LSU.

These consequences aren’t just in the long-run. The legislature’s failure to act has already cost LSU. Moody’s Investors Service downgraded LSU’s credit rating Wednesday, which means that LSU will be forced to spend more money to borrow for major projects.

LSU has no choice but to rely on the government for its funding. The university cannot even raise its tuition without approval of the legislature, something unlikely to happen in the current political climate. The legislature’s unwillingness to adequately fund LSU embarrasses Louisiana and will set back the state for decades if nothing is done.

While we may be rivals on the field, the entire state benefits from a strong LSU. We demand that the legislature provide funding to LSU and all Louisiana public universities to ensure a sustainable future for our home.

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