NEW ORLEANS - If Governor Bobby Jindal has his way, Louisiana colleges could be out of hundreds of millions of dollars. Beginning July 1 with the start of the budget year, cuts to higher education could be as high as $347 million. Chuck Kleckley, House Speaker, says he will fight to put a halt to any such financial slashes to the state's higher education.
In an interview with the New Orleans Advocate Kleckley said, "It doesn't make any sense. Cutting higher education to that magnitude would not set us back years — it would set us back generations. It would go against everything we've done in economic development."
Political analyst Clancy DuBos said it's significant that the speaker is stepping up against these cuts because it falls on on top of more than $700 million colleges have already seen in state setbacks since 2008.
DuBos explained, "All legislators who voted for the budgets in the last 7 years have voted for these cuts. It's great that they're standing up now and saying 'no more cuts or not as big a cut,' but they all bear responsibility for cutting higher ed."
Education may not be the only group losing hundreds of millions in state funding. The state health department could be at a loss for $250 million or more. Governor Jindal is trying to decrease funding to each state agency by 15 percent in the eye of a nearly $1.4 billion gap in his final executive budget. It's a gap DuBos believes was created by the Jindal administration.
"Every year that he has been governor he has used one-time money to balance the budget that means we've run a deficit every year," said DuBos.
Kleckley believes the proposed reduction would lead to the continued erosion of Louisiana's higher education. Kleckley says he is reviewing options to keep higher education from taking these financial hits but has not gone into detail of any concrete plans.