Friday, January 30, 2009

LSU and Southern faculty leaders fight budget cuts

To their great credit, faculty leaders at Louisiana universities are fighting the budget cuts proposed by Governor Bobby Jindal. As Advocate reporter Jordan Blum writes here, LSU Faculty Senate President Kevin Cope and Southern Faculty Senate President Sudhir Trivedi are protesting teh goverbnor's plan to cut between $212 million and $382 million from higher education's budget this year.

LFT President Steve Monaghan agrees with the profesors, saying the state's failure to properly fund eduation at all levels contributes to our loss of productive citizens moving in droves to other states;

Here is the text of Steve's letter:

Dear Editor

Louisiana State University Faculty Senate President Kevin Cope and Southern University Sudhir Trivedi are to be applauded for their leadership in opposition to devastating cuts to higher education.

Their outrage is not unwarranted, particularly when one considers these cuts in the context of the hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks, tax deductions, and credits that have been provided for dubious purposes and often with little demonstrated need over the last few years.

While Louisiana’s coffers swelled as a result of rising oil prices and the infusion of billions of dollars in post-hurricane reconstruction, the LFT warned against the expansion and acceleration of enormous tax breaks for big business. We opposed the repeal of earlier tax reforms that had helped to diversify the state’s revenue base. Nonetheless, hundreds of millions in revenues were forfeited while a very long list of unmet and deferred needs continued to be deferred and unmet.
Professors Cope and Trivedi and the faculties of both institutions are wise to react swiftly and forcefully to possible cuts of $212 to $382 million dollars. The Louisiana Federation of Teachers stands with them in opposition to such draconian cuts to higher education.

In fact, the LFT has urged our governor to articulate a bolder, broader vision for Louisiana, particularly in the area of public education. We believe that this vision must include a recognition that Louisiana continues to suffer an outmigration of its best and brightest because of its historical failure to invest in its people and its infrastructure. Our state failed to embrace public policies that contribute to a higher quality of life for all citizens.

Let us move our public discourse beyond administrative nostrums to “learn to do more with less.” That prescription has led us to ignore pressing needs for far too long. Certainly, every tax dollar must be spent responsibly, strategically, and to build a better Louisiana. But the state must have enough of those dollars to conduct the people’s business.

Leaders must encourage us to dance to forms of music yet to be heard. Educators and many of citizens have heard a sad symphony for far too long. We’re ready to dance to something a bit more upbeat and much bolder.

Steve Monaghan, President
Louisiana Federation of Teachers

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