Walter Pierce

Board of Regents to higher ed: Woe is thee

by Walter Pierce

Budget discussions this week at the Louisiana Board of Regents meeting foretold more dire straits for higher education in Louisiana next year and beyond.

"Although considerable uncertainty exists with respect to the precise budget circumstances for the 2010-2011 cycle, indications from the Administration are that an additional reduction of approximately $150 million can be expected next fiscal year,” writes Meg Casper, associate commissioner of public affairs, in a recap of the meeting. “Budget projections from Regents staff estimate that higher education budgets in Louisiana could fall from a total of $1.425 billion for 2008-09 to as low as $819.7 million in 2011-12 due to a reduction in state funding as well as loss of federal stimulus dollars," Casper continues. “This would represent a 44.4% reduction in funding for postsecondary education since its peak 2008 level.”

Remedies for the looming budget shortfalls discussed at the meeting include shifting all remedial courses to the community and technical college system, increasing on-line course offerings, sharing of assets between the Louisiana Community & Technical College System and the University of Louisiana system due to their physical proximity, eliminating courses, raising student fees and possibly even laying off faculty and staff.