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Jindal fires back, defends college cuts

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The Associated Press

BATON ROUGE — Hammered by criticism that he’s allowing damaging cuts to college campuses, Gov. Bobby Jindal has launched a rhetorical offensive against higher education, suggesting the cuts aren’t as bad as they’ve been portrayed by college leaders.

In recent speeches, Jindal’s said it’s not that college and university budgets can’t be reduced, but that administrators need to find efficiencies and trim unnecessary spending. He’s talked of a need to stop whining and “do more with less.”

“They could be more efficient and deliver better results for those students,” Jindal said this week. “Now, will they have to change some of their policies? Absolutely. Will they maybe have to require professors to teach more classes or spend more time in the classroom? Absolutely. But that’s a good thing for students.”

Trying to gain hold of the debate as a new round of cuts looms for colleges, the Jindal administration has been rolling out budget figures to bolster its point and reinforce the governor’s opposition to tax increases to help shrink budget cuts.

The administration says that tuition and fee hikes on students have offset a large portion of the college budget cuts so far and that spending on higher education hasn’t been slashed as much as the overall budget. Jindal says less than 40 percent of higher education dollars pay for classroom instruction and suggests administrative overhead must be reduced.

College leaders, meanwhile, say the cuts already made — $310 million in reductions since slashing began two years ago — have marred campuses, shutting down programs, reducing student services and forcing layoffs of workers.

They say the $290 million or more in cuts expected for the next fiscal year could be devastating.

“If we stay on our current course, LSU will be a shadow of its former self. Students will suffer. Louisiana’s future will not be as bright or prosperous as we all have envisioned it,” LSU Provost John Hamilton said in a recent speech.

The two sides are haggling to frame the debate as the state’s budget picture worsens and a budget battle looms in the 2011 regular legislative session.

Jindal adamantly opposes tax increases, but several lawmakers have said they’ll be pushing for at least temporary tax increases to stop large cuts to colleges.

“The governor is suggesting that we can absorb these cuts but still do better by our students, and I know he can say that, but the fact is with cuts of this magnitude, we’re going to do less with less.”


Written by demon53

October 28, 2010 at 11:59 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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