the nicholls worth

Budget cuts destroying Louisiana’s future

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In what has almost become an annual occurrence, the Louisiana State Legislature has announced another round of budget cuts for higher education.

Governor Bobby Jindal and the state government have already slashed $673 million of state funding to public universities since 2008. These new cuts could take that number well over $1 billion.

For lack of a better word, it’s ridiculous that this state continues to bleed its future to make up for budget shortfalls elsewhere. It wasn’t but a year ago that Jindal announced he would push for an increase to higher education funding. Thanks to term limits, he can’t run for re-election. It’s unnecessary to make good on any promises that will be swept under the rug if Jindal wins a Presidential nomination in 2016.

This isn’t a case of cutting off a leg to save the body. This is diving off a cliff without a parachute and hoping your head breaking the fall is enough to keep you alive.

Money from trust funds or the sale of property hasn’t helped the budget. Raising tuition hasn’t filled the gap left by budget cuts and budget cuts aren’t doing much more than putting the state’s future in jeopardy as institutions struggle to make ends meet.

As students of a public institution, we are at the mercy of these short-sighted fixes to a major problem. We are at the mercy of decision-makers who feel the programs we study are irrelevant or unsustainable. We are at the mercy of those who have no problem closing universities and keeping their constituents uneducated.

In the past week, news has cast a bleak outlook on this issue. Various news outlets were filled with state representatives and senators talking of closing universities and not being able to sustain education as it is.

Since this is a Republican state, it can be expected. Big government is shunned among GOP members. Raise taxes for higher education? Are you out of your mind? Why would anyone do such a thing?

To me, it seems like our elected officials are giving up on us – giving up on the group of young adults with the highest potential to propel this state forward. It is already difficult to convince a young person from Louisiana that there is potential here outside of working in the oil industry. Without an affordable university nearby, those who aren’t looking to major in an “in demand” or “sustainable” program will be forced to look at out-of-state universities, and they will take their money with them.

Now is not the time for double-talk, buzzwords and apologies for not having any control over what is happening. The students, faculty and staff at Louisiana’s public universities deserve action. We deserve a champion who is willing to fight for us. We deserve the education that we have worked hard and paid for without the threat of it being yanked from under us.

It’s as if the only people that are concerned about the future of this state are the people with the highest risk of having the vehicle for achieving their potential taken away from them. If those we expect to fight the hardest for us throw their hands up in defeat at the mention of budget cuts, what hope is there?

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The student newspaper of Nicholls State University
Budget cuts destroying Louisiana’s future