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May 21, 2011

Dr. Nick J. BrunoA message to ULM faculty and staff from ULM President Nick J. Bruno

Dear Colleagues,

The University of Louisiana System provides a weekly update of legislation which could impact system institutions. There was considerable activity this week that may impact our budget for F/Y 2010  I wanted to share with you. 

As you read these actions, you will see how difficult it is to predict the final budget. I wish to call your attention to the summary of the 3/4/5 tuition authority action.  Our delegation all voted favorably for that authority; however, it did not secure enough senate member votes to pass.  The impact of this action if not reversed prior to session’s end will have an additional $1.8 million dollar reduction on our budget. 

 

MONDAY 5/16
The House Ways and Means Committee passed HB 633 and 634 by Rep Greene out of committee.  The bills eliminate the personal and corporate income tax and revenues of $14.8 billion over the next 5 years.

The Senate Revenue and Fiscal Affairs committee also passed SB 259 by Sen Marionneaux that provides for a 5 year phase out of those same taxes.  Despite attempts to have the bill recommitted to the Senate Finance committee, the bill has been placed on special order for floor debate next Tuesday 5/24. 

TUESDAY 5/17
The House Appropriation committee reported HB1.  The committee eliminated a number of the Governor’s recommendations for using contingency and supplemental appropriations (including the prison sales, the TOPS dedication and the increase in employee retirement contributions).  As a result, there were additional reductions to the Dept of Education, Health and Hospitals, Public Safety and Corrections Services and other executive agencies; including elimination of funding for the 27th pay period.  There were no reductions made to Higher Education.  The bill is scheduled for floor debate on Wednesday 5/25.

Senate Floor passed SB52/53 with virtually no opposition;  the bill dedicates the full amount of the tobacco settlement proceeds to the TOPS fund.  Proceeds are currently shared by the Health Excellence Fund, the Education Excellence Fund and the TOPS Fund.  Similar legislation HB 390/457 by J. Smith is moving through the House.  The constitutional amendment will also require a vote of the people. 

WEDNESDAY 5/18
This year is the final year of the “3/4/5 tuition authority” which was authorized in 2008.  The increase must be approved by the Joint Committee on the Budget by a majority of both the House and Senate members.  JLCB considered the item which failed to pass in the Senate vote (it was 4-4 tie vote).  The item may be reconsidered upon a motion by the prevailing side, i.e. one of the Senators who voted no must make the motion.  We are hopeful that there will be another JLCB meeting scheduled to address this issue.   I have included a copy of the vote so you can better discuss with your members.   

The Revenue Estimating Conference Committee met and recognized a reduction of $77 million in current year revenues.  There are no indication as of yet on what actions are being considered to address this shortfall.  The REC actually recognized a surplus of $118 million from FY10 in an earlier meeting this year, however, those funds have already been budgeted in FY12 to address the $1.6 billion deficit.

Speaker Tucker was unable to generate the necessary 2/3 support to pass the SUNO/UNO merger bill (HB 537). Instead he announced he would amend the bill to transfer the University of New Orleans to the UL System.  Today in Senate Education the duplicate SB183 by Sen Appel was passed by substitute. 

THURSDAY 5/19

Retirement committee considered a number of bills that would impact retiree benefits including HB530 by Pearson which was deferred.  HB 479 by Talbot which increases contributions for LASERS employees was approved by the committee.

SCHEDULE FOR NEXT WEEK
This is what has been scheduled to date:

Monday 5/23
Appropriations

  • HB32 Ancillary Appropriation bill
  • HB611 Supplemental Appropriation bill

Ways and Means

  • HB2 Capital Outlay bill
  • HB3 Omnibus Bond Act

House Floor

  • HB 537 SUNO/UNO merger- to be amended to UNO transfer to ULS

Tuesday 5/24
Senate Floor

  • SB259- 5 year phase out of personal and corporate income taxes

Wednesday 5/25
House Floor

  • HB 1 General Appropriations Bill
  • HB 477 (transfers fund balances to the Overcollections Fund)

 

STILL TO BE ANNOUNCED
Grad Act (HB 549) has been referred to Senate Education.  There are still a number of Senate bills pending which will probably be heard before they start scheduling House bills.

Gun Bill (HB413) still has not been scheduled for hearing in the Criminal Justice committee.  We have heard it may be scheduled for June 1.  We will coordinate with the Board of Regents and other systems and I will get back to you with specifics on testimony and documentation required for that day. 

 

Thank you,

Nick J. Bruno, Ph.D.
President