Colleges cutting budgets

BATON ROUGE- Colleges in Louisiana can now start cutting more than eight percent from state budget income for the fiscal year that began July 1, 2009.

The Louisiana Board of Regents this week finalized the shares of cuts for each college system, with Southern University receiving the hardest cut of 11.5 percent.

Because of reduced state revenues, the final cuts are nearly 45 percent less than the original $219 million in proposed reductions to higher education.

State funding for public colleges now stands at about $1.3 billion as opposed to where it was before, at $1.4 billion.

The governor, along with the House and the Senate, worked out a last minute compromise to limit cuts so that colleges could downsize more slowly in anticipation of more budget reductions for at least the next two years.

Michael Martin, LSU Chancellor, said that the changes could represent the difference between close to 110 layoffs versus several hundred laid off at LSU.

Altogether, the LSU system faces $56 million in cuts, with the main campus alone facing a $19 million cut.

These cuts are because of Louisiana’s new performance-based higher education funding formula that rewards strong graduation rates.

Officials at Southern University contended the measure because the average Southern student begins college less prepared with lower test scores than the average LSU student.

The eight-school University of Louisiana System now faces a total of $36.9 million budget cut.

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