HAMMOND- Years of shrinking state funding have put Southeastern University in a tough spot.
SLU President Dr. John Crain said, “We're down about 320 positions in terms of faculty and staff, eliminated 19 academic programs."
It’s one of dozens of higher learning institutions across the state left every year with less money, along with dozens of hospitals, which has led to protests against both cuts. State Rep. Chris Broadwater, R-Hammond, says those entities have no protection from funding reductions in the state constitution and he wants to change that.
He said, “It seems to me that we continue to have a struggle in trying to determine how to fund things that theoretically are supposed to be priorities in our state."
Broadwater is proposing a constitutional convention at this year’s legislative session to re-write the rules. The goal is to give lawmakers more flexibility in making financial decisions. So far, colleagues are mixed.
"A number of them have come forward and said, I support you, I'll be with you on this issue,” said Broadwater, “Others have said that's a very risky thing."
Like State Sen. Jack Donahue, R-Mandeville, who supports the idea, but has his own plan to make it happen.
"Taking a look at those statutory things that take the money off the table that we can't cut as a legislative body and find out why and what can be done to change it," he said.
Universities, including Southeastern, are encouraged by the effort.
Crain said, "I think it's very plausible that we look at some other alternatives and at least have some dialogue about that."
If the legislature okay’s a constitutional convention, voters would have to approve any changes made. This year’s legislative session starts April 8.