‘In the red’: Louisiana’s public universities request budget relief amid COVID-19 pandemic

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BATON ROUGE, La. (WVLA/WGMB) — The Louisiana House’s budget panel saw a who’s-who of public college and university leaders Wednesday, hinting federal aid won’t be enough to avoid a higher education shortfall.

The federal CARES Act has given the state’s four public university systems $113 million in response to the virus, which has prompted more unemployment and declines in enrollment. But the proposed state federal fund shows higher education systems getting nearly $22 million fewer dollars than this past budget year, which ends June 30.

“We are a research institution,” interim LSU president Tom Galligan told House Appropriations committee members Wednesday. “So far, Congress has provided no relief for research funding at all.”

LSU alone would see $10 million less in the state general fund. The University of Louisiana, Southern University, and Louisiana Community & Technical College systems face their own prospective cuts.

“I totally empathize with the task ahead for the Appropriations committee,” UL system president Jim Henderson told BRProud.com in an interview. “That’s why we tell the story about the UL system and the impact of our work, how the human development mission is central to workforce, economic, and community development.”

The proposed $30-billion-plus budget is set to include 2% cuts across most state agencies. Lawmakers have until June 30 before midnight to pass their budget, which must take effect July 1.

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