Jindal budget ‘shell game’

Still scratching my head over where Bobby Jindal found the extra $50 million in state funds to give to higher education in his proposed FY15 budget, but I may have found the source.

What was reported:Jindal has proposed increasing funding universities and colleges by $142 million during the next budget cycle. The majority of this money, about $88 million, will come from tuition and other student fee increases. Times Picayune, Jan. 25, 2014.

Translation: The largest amount of the money comes from a tax increase on students.  However, it’s not clear that all the colleges even qualify under the law to increase tuition by up to 10 percent.

What was reported:A good chunk of the [extra $54 million]…,$40 million, would go to a grant program for high-profile research and promoting certain types of professions needed in the Louisiana job market.

Translation: New programs may be added to the college curriculum, rather than additional funds for existing programs. There are strings. Any public college seeking a portion of the extra funds must put up a 20 percent match from private sources.

What was reported:To help cover those higher costs, the governor wants to eliminate more than a thousand state government positions — almost all of which are currently vacant — as well as increase state workers’ health insurance premiums.

Translation: That leaves all of higher education with $14 million to cover the state’s portion of the employee healthcare insurance and any pay raises for the faculties. Non-faculty will receive 4 percent merit salary increases from a separate pot of money.

What was reported:The administration has also proposed eliminating more than 1,100 government work positions,… [including] 500 in higher education.

Translation: The extra $14 million and more, apparently, will come from cutting 500 positions at the colleges with no guarantee that the same amount will be returned to the colleges where the cuts are made.

In summary, Bobby Jindal has found the extra state revenues for some colleges by taking it away from other colleges.Looks like a shell game to me.


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