A Message from the President
June 22, 2010 - Legislative Update
The 2010 Regular Session of the Louisiana Legislature adjourned yesterday, Monday, June 21, at 6:00 p.m. It was a complicated and contentious Session, particularly where both the budget and higher education are concerned. Although the Legislature has completed its work, there are many details that will not be completely clear for days or even weeks.
For example, while the outcome of the Legislative budget process is more positive for higher education than it might have been, it remains unclear how the final funds for higher education will be allocated to institutions, including Southeastern, as a result of the potential impact of the new funding formula.
Two Concurrent Resolutions passed during the Session, one originating in the House and one in the Senate, urge and request the Board of Regents to address problematic issues with the new formula. Although the Resolutions are very helpful in making the Regents aware of the concerns we and other institutions share about the new formula, the Resolutions do not carry the weight of law. As a result, it is uncertain whether decisions on the use of the formula in allocating funds to institutions will be affected.
Also of significant importance to higher education is the La GRAD Act (HB 1171). The final version of the Act approved by the Legislature allows institutions to increase tuition up to ten percent each year until the average for SREB peer institutions is achieved. In exchange, each institution must enter into a contract with the Board of Regents to achieve certain performance goals.
While the tuition relief provided in the GRAD Act is appreciated and much needed, achievement of new performance expectations will be challenging given the magnitude of recent and projected budget reductions.
As you will recall from my June 14 campus update, our preliminary estimates projected a potential operating budget shortfall of nearly $3 million for next year. While that number likely will change now that the Session is over, all indications suggest we still face a challenging budget scenario in the new fiscal year. Additional details regarding Southeastern’s budget for next year should become clearer after action by the Board of Regents and Board of Supervisors later this week.
As this information becomes available, it will be shared with the campus community.