BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - With potentially $600 million less to use for the next school year, higher education leaders made an urgent plea to lawmakers at a House Appropriations meeting Wednesday.
"What we're asking for is significant and sustainable funding on behalf of higher education so that we can meet the needs of the workforce, the community and the state," said Dr. Joseph C. Rallo, LA Commissioner of Higher Education.
Under the governor's budget proposal, Louisiana's public universities and colleges would get about $123 million to split among their campuses next year. That's down 82 percent.
"You may be able to look under the cushions for some spare change but I think we've already looked under there," said Dr. Rallo.
Without funding from lawmakers, the state's higher ed commissioner says expect severe consequences. He says the worst-case scenario would be campus closures.
Like the higher ed commissioner, State Treasurer John Kennedy says no college or university will be safe under the proposed cuts.
Kennedy is supporting House Bill 376. He says it will give schools more federal funding that right now is going to the wrong places like non-governmental organizations.
"There's no way on God's green earth after cutting LSU and Southern, there's no way you can do that and then say, 'but it's ok to give money to the Purple Circle Social Club.' I mean anybody who does that, they're smoking something," said Kennedy.
The average faculty salary at a four-year public school in Louisiana is about $16,000 less than the national average, according to the House budget staff.