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President Nick J. Bruno

2017 Dear Colleagues E-mails


March 14, 2017

 

A message to ULM students, faculty, staff from ULM President Nick J. Bruno

 

Dear Colleagues: 

There has been many articles regarding the status of Louisiana's budget with many differing opinions as to how can it be addressed to better fund critical services.  The below editorial by Mr. Hanna, who is a staunch fiscal conservative was based upon research which had been conducted by Melissa Deslatte.  Her article was published recently in The News-Star also. 

This gives a terrific breakdown of how LA's taxes are committed and the composition of the 29+ billion dollar.  You have and will continue to hear from various individuals and groups suggesting solutions that can stabilize our budget. This editorial makes the challenge very clear. 

I wanted you to have this information so that as the session begins you are informed and can ask questions based upon the reality facing Louisiana. 

Thank you for all you do.

 

Sincerely,

Nick J. Bruno, Ph.D.
President

 

State budget is fixable
by Sam Hanna Jr., published March 8, 2017 in The Ouachita Citizen

 

Over the course of the next several weeks, we will be exposed to a host of news reports out of Baton Rouge and points elsewhere explaining why it’s absolutely necessary for the Legislature to sign off on Gov. John Bel Edwards’ proposed budget for the new fiscal year.

Many of those same news reports will quote officials claiming the world will come to an end if lawmakers don’t rubber stamp Edwards’ $29.7-billion spending plan for the 2016-2017 budget year, which begins July 1.

Lawmakers will convene their regular legislative session April 10. The session must come to a close no later than 6 p.m. on June 8. The most important topic on the agenda during the session will be the budget.

Over the weekend, The (Baton Rouge) Advocate published an informative piece on the state budget written by Melinda Deslatte of the Associated Press. In it, Deslatte did a nice job of explaining how the state budget is divvied up. She gave a breakdown on how much federal funding is tied up in the budget, how much of the budget is directed by constitutional and statutory dedications, how much is earmarked for K-12 public education, debt service and supplemental pay for police officers and how much money is left over for lawmakers to spend as they see fit.

According to Deslatte’s report, some $13.7 billion of the budget involves federal money, which comes with strings attached. In other words, the Feds tell the state what it can spend the money on. Medicaid, food stamps, disaster recovery and roads would fall under that category.

That leaves some $16 billion in the budget, but according to Deslatte’s report, some 40 percent of it is controlled by constitutional and statutory dedications. That means lawmakers passed a law that guided the spending or lawmakers put a constitutional amendment before the voters, which included language spelling out how state money would be spent, and the voters approved it. The latter has become the chic thing to do in the Legislature whenever lawmakers desire not to be left on the hook for spending taxpayer dollars on a project or endeavor that might not sit well with their constituents.

Remember, a statutory dedication can be undedicated by a majority vote of the Legislature. Undoing a constitutional dedication would require a two-thirds vote of the Legislature and a subsequent vote by the people.

Of the $16 billion in the budget that involves state money, only $9.5 billion is what we would describe as general fund dollars. It’s the general fund that lawmakers, by and large, control.

Let’s restate that point.

Nearly one-half, or some $4.3 billion, of the general fund budget is earmarked for the Minimum Foundation Program (K-12 public education), supplemental pay for police officers and elections. Funding for the MFP cannot be reduced by the Legislature. Lawmakers can simply hold the line, so to speak, on appropriations for public schools, but they can’t scale it back.

That, my friends, leaves a little more than $5 billion for the Legislature to appropriate for whatever they care to spend money on including higher education and health care. It’s that pot of money that’s usually subjected to mid-year budget cuts by the governor whenever revenue projections adopted by the Legislature during a legislative session don’t pan out.

As you may have determined in reading this piece, the Legislature’s hands are somewhat tied as it relates to spending state taxpayer dollars.

It seems to me, however, that lawmakers would do well to take a long hard look at the roughly $16 billion in the budget that involves state money to determine whether it’s absolutely necessary to tie up $11 billion of it by constitutional and statutory dedications. That’s the least lawmakers could do before asking Louisiana voters to swallow another tax increase or fee hike of any sort.

If lawmakers should reach an impasse over what to do about all of those constitutional and statutory dedications, maybe it’s time the people of Louisiana elect delegates for a constitutional convention and let the delegates come up with an alternative plan for the voters to approve. Or not approve.

Regardless of what we’ve been told or what we’ll hear in the coming weeks, the fact of the matter is state government in Louisiana doesn’t have a funding problem. It’s simply our priorities are out of whack.

It’s fixable. Without raising taxes.

  


March 9, 2017

 

A message to ULM students, faculty, staff from ULM President Nick J. Bruno

 

Dear Colleagues: 

Several faculty members asked in response to my email yesterday if they might be part of the group who were prohibited from pool or board activities.  Following is the response from our compliance office. 

Only those faculty or staff with responsibilities within or over athletics are precluded from participating in sports wagering activities...the faculty rep, president, or other to whom athletics reports.

Everyone else may participate at their leisure.

Table games (black jack, roulette, etc.) are permissible for anyone of legal age.

 

Sincerely,

Nick J. Bruno, Ph.D.
President

  


March 8, 2017

 

A message to ULM students, faculty, staff from ULM President Nick J. Bruno

 

Dear Colleagues: 

On February 20, 2017, a member of the executive council informed me of an alleged NCAA violation by two athletic department employees of an NCAA rule prohibiting participation in a Super Bowl “pool” or “board”.  I questioned at the time if this constituted an NCAA violation since these pools are so prevalent during bowl season. 

At that time I also informed the individual that I too had participated in such an activity at a private party the day of the Super Bowl.  I instructed the individual to research and provide me with a follow-up.  Needless to say, had I been aware my participation in such an activity was not allowed, I certainly would not have. 

Shortly after our initial discussion, I was informed it was in fact a NCAA violation.  I directed the reporting individual to inform Mr. Todd Dooley, Associate Athletic Director for Compliance, of these incidents so as to initiate appropriate processes. I also informed the Commissioner of the Sun Belt conference and the UL System president of my participation. 

Mr. Dooley completed his review Thursday and determined these were secondary infractions (minor) and will not impact or penalize our athletic program.  Mr. Dooley sent copies of his findings to the UL System, the Sun Belt conference and to the ULM athletic director. 

I am sending this note because I wanted you to know the full story directly from me.  I hold myself to a very high standard of accountability and integrity and felt it important to share with you.  I have requested compliance training from Mr. Dooley for me so that my lack of knowledge in compliance can be addressed.  I will also ask that he provide periodically a compliance newsletter to university employees that identifies areas where compliance violations can occur.   Every effort will be made to reduce the possibility of an unintentional violation in the future.  

I welcome any comments you may have or answer any questions. 

 

Sincerely,

Nick J. Bruno, Ph.D.
President

  


January 5, 2017

 

A message to ULM students, faculty, staff from ULM President Nick J. Bruno

 

Dear Colleagues: 


Please see below a New Years message from University of Louisiana System President Dr. Jim Henderson.  Dr. Henderson officially started his new role with the University of Louisiana System January 1. 

I look forward to working with him for the benefit of ULM.

Nick J. Bruno, Ph.D.
President

 

picture of ULS President Dr. James HendersonHappy New Year! I cannot adequately express how honored I am to work with you, the faculty and staff of the Universities of Louisiana, in this new capacity.  

As you know, we face immense challenges in Louisiana. The disinvestment in higher education over the past decade took an enormous toll on our colleges and universities while the cost of attendance for our students increased dramatically. In the near term, as our state leaders continue to grapple with difficult fiscal circumstances, we will collaborate with our Governor, the legislature, and others in the search for meaningful solutions. We will also advocate tirelessly for a reinvestment in our work. Our students deserve nothing less.

Throughout these difficult times, each of you has worked diligently—often doing multiple jobs—to ensure our students continue to have the highest quality college experience despite our budgetary challenges. Those efforts made in your classrooms are deeply appreciated in this office and by the tens of thousands of our recent graduates.  Those continued efforts are vital to our state’s future.

More than ever before, quality of life and economic empowerment are dependent upon educational attainment. The abilities to think critically, solve problems, and communicate effectively are essential. We develop those core competencies in more than 90,000 students every year. These students are our future, our promise. As graduates, they become engaged citizens in our communities and give our employers a competitive advantage. They create businesses. They educate our young. They care for our infirm. They discover new technologies. They enrich our environments with their artistry. 

By focusing on the needs of our students and partnering more closely than ever with our business and community leaders, we can help our stakeholders understand higher education is not a cost, but an investment. The return on that investment is invaluable. I look forward with great optimism to working with you to deliver that message as we advance our mission.

My door is always open for you to reach out with your ideas or concerns for our system of higher education in Louisiana. If you would like to receive periodic messages from me directly, please sign up here. I invite you to follow me on Twitter for more frequent, albeit less formal communication.  

Kindest Regards,
 

Jim

 

 


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