As I began this letter, word came out that the state budget is $100 million in the red because last year’s revenues came in less than projected. To make up for the loss, this year’s budget will reportedly have to be cut at mid-year.
I also learned that if a court decides the legislature was wrong to use the state’s “rainy day fund” to plug holes in this year’s budget, the administration will have to trim another $200 million before next June.
That’s $300 million, on top of the hundreds of millions already cut from the budget. And next year, experts predict a shortfall of as much as $2 billion. No one can seriously argue that Louisiana can absorb those kinds of cuts without crippling education, health care, transportation, and other vital services.
Already, higher education officials are talking about closing as many as eight institutions. And while Gov. Jindal says that K-12 education has been spared budget cuts, we know that state funding was slashed for national certification stipends and student transportation, shifting those costs to local school boards. Educators have been laid off in some districts. In others, teachers must give up planning periods because their systems cannot afford substitutes.
Read the rest of LFT President Steve Monaghan's letter: please click here.