Appropriations committee ready to make higher education cuts

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The House Appropriations Committee is ready to start closing colleges and programs sooner rather than later.

Representative Jim Fannin wanted to know which programs higher education wanted to cut. "What we want you to tell us, you said earlier that we would have to do the closures," says Fannin.  "But are you ready to recommend today, you know, to the legislature closures that the Board of Regents would like and would recommend?"

Commissioner of Higher Education Sally Clausen was not ready to recommend program closures at this point.  She was ready to suggest a new way of doling out state dollars.

"Instead of basing dollars on enrollments the dollars are going to go to reinforce institutions that are performing and performing means graduation rates," said Clausen.

This could be problematic for underperforming colleges like Southern University of New Orleans.  In the 2008-2009 school year, Southern University of New Orleans graduation rate was only 6.6 percent, compared to LSU's Baton Rouge campus at 66 percent.

Representative Patrick Connick scolded the SUNO President. "The graduation rates are pathetic," says Connick. "The money's there and I don't see the state getting a return with their investment into your schools."

The Appropriations Committee predicts as much as a $300 million dollar shortfall this budget year. They won't know that until after the April tax collections come in.

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