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Higher Education Budget Continues Being Trimmed

Louisiana Board of Regents

The Louisiana Board of Regents has learned that they’re owed a decent chunk of money. 

"The Board of Regents was supposed to have received about $15 million over the past 20 years from the Racing Commission and those dollars had not been sent to the board," explains Higher Education Commissioner, Joseph Rallo. The Legislative Auditor discovered the money required by statute had never been paid. 

According to the Racing Commission, no mechanism was in place to get the funds to the Board of Regents. "From our perspective," says Rallo, "it’s a very simple mechanism. If the dollars were there, all they had to do was ask."

It’s something the legislature will have to deal with, but that can’t happen until next Spring.

The legislature, in the form of the Joint Budget Committee, has dealt with the Board of Regents recently. They dealt them a budget cut of $3.8 million. This is for the budget that just started July 1st.

Rallo says the Board had no advanced notice of the additional cuts. "We were watching the Revenue Estimating Committee on Friday and that was the first time anyone heard we were taking a cut." He points out that last session, the Board tried to avoid what would have been an 82% budget cut to higher education. But if you do the math, he says, this time around "we took 82% of the amount of dollars that were reduced across the state."  The most recent cuts enacted by the Joint Budget Committee totaled $4.6 million.

And Rallo says they expect further budget trimming because the price of oil is so far below the $62 pre-calculated into this budget. The price of a barrel of oil today is less than $40. "So we know that times are going to be tough again," he says.

College students have now started their Fall classes, and there’s word that there may not be enough money to fully fund TOPS. At least students didn’t have to worry about the SAVE fees, since they did not show up on tuition bills. Of course, students haven’t signed the tax credits for the SAVE plan over to the Board of Regents either.