Cuts to higher education hurt Louisiana's economy

Friday, January 17, 2014

In the past six years in Louisiana, the Legislature and the administration have unfortunately doubled the state’s exemption budget, and in the same time period doubled college tuition. Some would say that this was simply a shift of taxes onto those who are trying to make something out of themselves, their families, their communities and our state as a whole. I’ve even heard fellow legislators call it a tax on students’ dreams.

I believe, and I am sure most Louisianians join me in believing, that higher education is a public good, an investment in our state and its future. Unfortunately, the governor’s ideology of extreme privatization has played itself out in the funding of our colleges and universities over the past six years.

Six years ago the state supported 70 percent of the higher education budget, while 30 percent was from tuition. Today we see the opposite, with 70 percent from tuition and 30 percent from the state.

Being the youngest legislator in Louisiana, I still have many friends who are attending college. Last year, I found it necessary to begin the conversation on just how much the state should invest in its people’s education beyond high school. I passed legislation creating a task force to begin this conversation and challenged this task force to focus on three major areas: access and affordability to college education, fiscal stability of public colleges and universities and tuition strategies to increase student success.

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