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Kennedy: I Don’t Know How La. Universities Keep the Lights On

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State Treasurer John Kennedy has a plan to better fund higher education without raising taxes or tuition rates.  An extra $528 million boost to be exact.

His plan is one that’s been tried before: cut back 10% of the state government’s consulting contracts.  In previous attempts, that money would have gone to fund several projects, but this year’s attempt will focus on putting the money towards higher education.

Kennedy noted that the state budget has bloated, population has stagnated, and higher education funding has been greatly reduced.

Kennedy said the state budget under Mike Foster was $12 million.  Under Kathleen Blanco, it was $19 billion.  Today, it’s $25.3 billion.

Meanwhile, higher education spending was $1.6 billion in 2008.  Now, it’s $525 million.

The state treasurer points out that while all of this has been going on, state funding on private consultants are now costing the state $5.28 billion (about 20.87% of the state budget).  That amount is spread out over 19,000 consulting contracts.

Legislation to reduce state consulting contracts by 10% passed the House of Representatives twice, but did not pass the state Senate either time.

So, why not just cut all outside consultant funding?

“The main reason is I can’t get the bill passed,” Kennedy explained to 710 KEEL.  He added he would love to completely eliminate consulting contracts, but he’s having enough trouble getting 10% cut.

And with the dwindling funding for the state’s university system, the state treasurer wonders how the schools can even operate.

“I don’t know how some of them are keeping the lights on,” Kennedy told 710 KEEL.  ”I don’t know how [Louisiana] Tech, LSUS, Northwestern, Bossier Parish Community College… I don’t know how they do it.”

It’s been suggested that increased tuition rates would pay for the state’s funding shortfalls.  However, Kennedy says Louisiana’s trend is unusual nationally because 75% of states are actually increasing funding for universities.

The Republican puts his plan into a simple phrase: “real jobs for adults and a good education for our children.  We can’t have one without the other.”

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