Recently, Sen. Conrad Appel (R-Metairie) defended the Jindal administration’s five-year assault on higher education funding in Louisiana. Appel, who chairs the Senate Education Committee, seemed to be saying that the multi-year budget cuts, amounting to some $625 million, are the tonic that our colleges and universities need in order to produce a better product.
In an ironic twist, Appel’s letter to The Advocate included this gem: “…we must be able to provide a system of higher education that is high-performing, properly funded and aligned with workforce and economic development needs.”
Today, LFT President Steve Monaghan responded.
With all due respect to state Sen. Conrad Appel, his letter to the editor (Jan. 31) unfortunately reads as an apologia for the more than $625 million in cuts to higher education over the past five years, cuts that have left our state with the lowest overall level of college funding in the South.
Because of these budget cuts, many respected professors and academic leaders have left for universities in other states, and with them have reportedly gone millions of dollars in research grants.
In an effort to offset these budgetary cuts, tuition and fees have escalated. The escalation of costs to students and working families places the dream of a college education at risk.
These cuts have not been surgical. They have not been limited to the elimination of the duplications of programs, or the consequences of low graduation rates. Make no mistake about it, these cuts have affected students.
For at least five years, a cuts-only approach to fiscal policy has produced inadequate funding and mid-year cuts.
Real damage has been done to higher education and the future of our state. Literally hundreds of tax breaks, deductions and rebates have been promoted, passed and continued with little regard for their need or value to Louisiana citizens.
As a result, Louisiana is suffering disastrous consequences. Higher education stands as one of the more prominent victims.
Steve Monaghan, president,
Louisiana Federation of Teachers