Currently, the State is undergoing a 25-day special session to focus upon a pending $950 million dollar shortfall to its anticipated budget and to begin to patch a $2.2 billion dollar shortage anticipated next fiscal year starting July 1, 2016.
The new Governor, Jon Bel Edwards, a democrat, in a very republican state, has indicated that if revenues are not raised, there is the prospects of shutting down universities which could even cause the fall football season to be cancelled.
On Thursday, or the fourth day of the special session that began Monday, in an online video interview, I asked the Commissioner of Higher Education questions related to this budget crises. In part one of today’s segment interview, which segment ran yesterday, the commissioner, Joseph Rallo, spoke about how his agency discussed the horrible financial crunch with Governor Edwards which gave rise to the reason Edwards mentioned the prospects of shutting down the universities and football.
Below is a Youtube video playlist of segment 1 to 5. You can watch it below and you will see the closed caption on each of the respective videos. Thus, you can read the closed-captioned transcript while watching the video.
Only last spring, during that regular session, the Louisiana was facing the prospects of financial exigency. This term applies to universities and is similar to bankruptcy. The legislature was able to avert this very real crises, in part, to some financial maneuvering, however, the crises is still upon the state. Rallo discusses whether this is being discussed and the status of those discussions.
WHEN DID HE DISCOVER THE EXTENT OF THE BUDGET CRISES?
Last year, the legislature and the then-governor, Bobby Jindal said they had balanced the budget for the fiscal year 2016, starting July 1, 2015. However, shortly after the budget was signed, there were questions whether it was indeed balanced. Through the summer months and into the fall, there was continuing speculation, in part to the lingering low prices in oil, that the budget would need to be revised. However, after the November 2015 election, once the transition team of Jon Bel Edwards got into the Jindal administrative books and after a revenue estimating conference indicating that the budget had indeed worsened, to the extent of $750 million for the current fiscal year and $1.9 billion for the upcoming year, starting July 1 of 2016, the crises heightened. Rallo discusses in part segment two of this interview, his knowledge regarding the extent and degree of the budget problem.
IMPACT OF BUDGET CRISES UPON REPUTATION OF LOUISIANA UNIVERSITIES
Once again, Louisiana is in the spotlight of poor budgetary management. The state escaped financial exigency last year due to budgetary gimmicks offered by Governor Bobby Jindal as he sought the US Presidential campaign. Now, for roughly eight years, the reduction of revenues upon the institute of higher education has had an impact upon the student body, the students’ and their parents’ abilities to pay for their own college careers. However, now that the state once again is facing an enormous budget problem, for the remainder of this and for the following year, and given the fact that the news of the problem has gone national, the state continues to suffer from the entire embarrassing episode. Rallo discusses the current and future impact upon the university’s reputation.
SHOULD LOUISIANA HAVE SO MANY FOUR YEAR COLLEGES? WE’RE NOT FLORIDA
One of the talking point and certainly a major concern for those who want to consolidate, merge or shut down various universities is the claim that a small state like Louisiana has almost the same number of four-year colleges as does the State of Florida. The idea of merger and consolidating have been popular among many who feel the state simply cannot afford the universities and the teachers that Louisiana currently has and streamlining is not only necessary but mandatory if the state is going to be able to get its finances under control. Added to this discussion is the finger-pointing occurring between members of the higher education and the legislature in terms of who can lead the charge to make these radical changes. In video four, Rallo talks about these important issues.
LET’S SHUT DOWN, MERGE SOME OF THOSE SCHOOLS, NOW!
Whoa, not so fast!
As bad as the budget is, as much as Louisiana needs the money, closing down, merging, consolidating does not happen overnight. It cannot and will not happen during this legislative session or probably even next year. Why the foot-dragging? Rallo explains the realities of making structural changes to the ongoing educational institution, even assuming the legislature wanted to take immediate action.lem? Was that something last November, October, or something that is very recent, or what?
Again, above is a Youtube video playlist of segment 1 to 5. You can watch it below nd you will see the closed caption on each of the respective videos. Thus, you can read the closed-captioned transcript while watching the video.