LSU at Eunice Chancellor William Nunez asked Crowley Rotarians on Tuesday to contact their legislators to ask for as much support as possible in minimizing funding cuts to the growing school.
Though numbers will not be certain until the Jindal administration juggles them for presentation to the Legislature in March, LSUE could face a budget cut of as much as $2.2 million. That extreme, Nunez said, would set the school back seven years.
The budget knife hangs disproportionately over higher education and healthcare because they are areas unprotected by constitutional or statutory mandatory funding provisions.
Louisiana, it has been reported, is facing a budget shortfall of as much as $1 billion in the fiscal year which begins July 1.
One option available is to dip into the state’s “rainy day” fund to offset at least a portion of the revenue gap.
Budget reductions will hurt a school that has seen enrollment improve by nine percent this past semester, Nunez said. Now, the school may have to reduce staffing, leading to a possible 45 percent loss of student population, which is now about 3,000.
LSUE has a large economic impact on the region, contributing $8.97 million in state appropriations, $5.07 million in self-generated revenues, and $1.66 million in grants and appropriations to the local economy. Nunez called the school a “significant economic engine.”
Nunez emphasized that the majority of LSUE students stay in Louisiana, a triumph for the school, considering the state loses 17,000 people per year.
There is, stated Nunez, a “direct correlation between economic development and higher education,” pushing his argument that budget cuts to higher education would be a disaster for the state, not just the schools.
“We cannot afford to cut our higher education by 30 percent,” said Nunez.
“Education is the transformer of American life... this is bad, this is really bad.”
Eighty percent of the LSUE budget is dedicated to personnel, with the remaining 20 percent going to operational expenses. If the projected $2.2 million funding cut pans out, the university will have to cut people to make up the difference.