Budget cuts rush to ULM

Olivia Barfield

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SGA President Adrianne Lejeune and Treasurer Marc Calhoun recently attended The Louisiana Council of Student Body Presidents leadership conference about budget cuts that public Louisiana universities have suffered and will continue to face.

Lejeune spoke to SGA about how uninformed many students are on the subject of budget cuts.

Lejeune said budget cuts are coming for higher education, which means less money for the state and a smaller budget for the university.

“We are going to get cut. They just protected Healthcare from getting cut, and the only thing left to get cut is higher education,” Lejeune said.

Louisiana faces a $1.6 billion financial shortfall next year, and all that is left to cut is higher education.

Last year, budget cuts resulted in the university’s five colleges being consolidated into three.

“It’s why you’ve lost colleges, it’s why you’ve lost majors, it’s why you’ve lost everything that you have lost. It’s why you’ve lost all the progress that the university has made,” said Laura Knotts, SGA adviser.

According to NOLA.com, Louisiana’s colleges and universities had been told to prepare for at least $300 million in financial reductions during the next fiscal year.

But now Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration is saying the higher education and health care deficits next year could be as much as $50 million to $100 million higher than those original estimates.

Last week it was announced that Louisiana’s public universities and colleges may end up charging higher tuition for certain degrees and implementing new student fees to help cover a $400 million gap in the state’s higher education budget next year.

Knotts said that another cut to ULM could be devastating.

ULM is currently receiving less state funding than it did in 1953.

“We’ve been pushed back into the first half of the last century. They didn’t have smart boards and computers and all the stuff that we have to pay for now, so that funding went a lot further back then,” said Knotts.

Knotts said that, realistically, there are very few places left to cut at ULM.

“Your tuition has gone up, but it doesn’t even cover what we’ve been cut,” said Knotts, “this is why it’s incredibly important to speak up for your school.”

SGA challenges students to make phone calls to their senators and representatives about the issue, and about how it will make things very hard for students personally.

“They expect to hear from other politicians, but when they start hearing from people who are actually being affected, they’ll listen a little more. And after a while, when people really start putting in their voice, they’ll start looking at things a little bit closer,” Calhoun said.

At Louisiana.gov, citizens can enter their address and find their local senators and representatives, as well as their phone numbers.