Budget outlook bleak for LSUE

By J.Anfenson-Comeau

jamieenews@bellsouth.net

It may not be doomsday, but the financial horizon is looking pretty grim for LSU at Eunice, which is facing a $1.29 million-dollar (15.5 percent) cut in state funding for the 2009-2010 fiscal year.

This cut is on top of the $379,000 mid-year cut LSUE took for the current fiscal year.

“It’s cutting us down to the bone,” Chancellor Bill Nunez said last week. “But at least it’s not cutting into the marrow.”

Last week, LSU System President John Lombardi announced that LSU campuses were preparing for an additional 15 percent cut in state funding for the next fiscal year.

These cuts take into account anticipated education funds in the federal stimulus package. When those funds run out in two years, the cuts could be much worse.

These cuts are especially painful to a small campus like LSUE, where over 80 percent of the budget is tied up in personnel.

“We’ve got more of ourselves invested in personnel than most campuses. In fact, we’ve always prided ourselves on the fact that we did have more focus on the classroom enterprise than any other campus in the state.”

“The core of this enterprise is the education of the students, and that’s what will take the biggest hit,” Nunez said.

Nunez said that the budget cuts will force LSUE to eliminate 16 faculty and six staff positions.

Nunez stressed, however, that no full-time employees would be laid off.

“These positions are all vacant, retirees and adjunct (temporary faculty) positions,” Nunez said.

“We’ve tried to anticipate and protect our work staff, our faculty ... by anticipating these economic circumstances ahead of time and sequestering these positions when they were identified as vacant or retiring.”

Not filling these positions, however, will lead to larger classes and greater workload for faculty and staff.

In addition, LSUE will cut its operating costs, namely supplies, maintenance, travel, capital outlay and library funding,

State funding accounts for about 60 percent of LSUE’s budget when tuition revenue and other sources are factored in. State schools, must get legislative approval to raise tuition.

Nunez noted that part of LSUE’s appeal is its low cost, and raising tuition too high would be self-defeating.

The budget crisis is primarily due to the dramatic drop in oil prices and decreased tax revenues.

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