Considerable support among business and civic leaders in Ruston and Shreveport notwithstanding, the Louisiana House of Representatives appears unwilling to yield the necessary 70 votes needed to merge Louisiana State University at Shreveport into Louisiana Tech University.
House budget Chairman Jim Fannin, D-Jonesboro, put the issue before his colleagues Tuesday, but readily admitted that he couldn't muster a supermajority in the 105-seat chamber and shelved House Bill 964 after a debate that exposed varying opinions among north Louisiana lawmakers who previously had been full-throated in their support for the idea. Last week, Rep. Thomas Carmody, R-Shreveport, appeared alongside Fannin in the House Education Committee and said the LSU System has neglected the Shreveport campus. On Tuesday, he asked Fannin to put the long-shot bill aside in favor of a resolution that would attempt to hold LSU System leaders to their latest promises to help build up and improve LSU-Shreveport.
The LSU Board of Supervisors opposes the merger. The Louisiana Board of Regents endorses it.
Carmody told his colleagues that he stands by his previous assertions about why LSU-Shreveport, with fewer than 5,000 students, has been largely stagnant over several decades that saw significant growth on other four-year campuses around Louisiana and in other comparable cities in other states. But he said the political reality of a 70-vote threshold leaves little choice other than to push for the "LSU-Shreveport Commitment Plan" to become reality. The document, which the LSU Board of Supervisors has approved, is the product of work done under ousted LSU System President John Lombardi.