Members of the University of Louisiana at Monroe Alumni Association on Monday voiced strenuous objections to the state’s proposed higher ed budget cuts for fiscal year 2009-10.
The association outlined several reasons for their opposition in a resolution directed to state legislators, which indicated that budget cuts of the magnitude projected will accelerate the region’s economic woes and exacerbate the area’s “brain drain.”
If proposed state appropriation reductions are adopted, ULM’s cuts would exceed $8,100,000, bringing total cuts of more than $10,000,000 to the university after it was forced to adopt mid-year cuts exceeding $2,370,000.
Funding for mandatory costs increases of $1.4 million is not provided in the appropriations.
Senate Bill 335 – which would halve the proposed $219 million dollar budget cut to Louisiana higher education if adopted – provides a viable alternative to massive cuts, according to Alumni Association President Ronald Bush.
“Without the relief provided by SB 335, ULM will be forced to reduce its budget by $10.5 million dollars,” said Bush. “A cut of this magnitude will result in program eliminations and employee layoffs.”
The resolution depicted northeast Louisiana as already suffering disproportionately higher job loss rates, along with disproportionately lower state funding enhancements and budget reductions compared to other Louisiana universities.
Association members reminded legislators in the resolution that many non-traditional students return to school during a recession, increasing demand for viable institutions of higher learning to provide training or re-training for both the employed and the unemployed.
Drastic cuts to higher education will also jeopardize current and future federal and private funding and investment for education, according to the resolution.
ULM’s location near the Delta serves students who come from the highest poverty level in the Deep South. The region also suffers historically lower employment rates than the state average
The resolution reads as follows:
Legislature of the State of Louisiana
The Alumni Association
The University of Louisiana at Monroe
in response to
Proposed Budget Cuts to Louisiana Higher Education
WHEREAS, the Northeast quadrant of the state has been negatively affected by the closing of major companies and subsequent job losses at a disproportionately higher rate than that of the rest of the state, and
WHEREAS, the University of Louisiana at Monroe recently experienced disproportionately lower state funding enhancement and a disproportionately larger budget reduction compared to other Louisiana universities, even as this region experiences the highest poverty level in the Deep South and historically has an unemployment rate significantly higher than the state average, and
WHEREAS, budget cuts of the magnitude projected will accelerate the economic devastation of the area and can only serve to exacerbate the "brain drain" from the area and the state, and
WHEREAS, several hundreds of millions of dollars are projected to be in the "rainy day" fund by the end of this fiscal year, and additional financial support is available in economic development funds, and
WHEREAS, during a recession citizens return to universities, increasing demand for viable institutions of higher learning to provide training or re-training for both the employed and the unemployed, and
WHEREAS, drastic cuts to higher education across Louisiana will jeopardize current and future federal and private funding and investment for education, thereby diminishing the ability of institutions of higher education to attract and retain faculty to deliver quality instruction, research, and services to the state; therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED, that alumni of the University of Louisiana at Monroe vigorously request that members of the State of Louisiana legislature immediately rescind the proposed massive budget cuts to Louisiana higher education; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the University of Louisiana at Monroe Alumni Association calls upon the legislature to propose alternative remedies to the state's fiscal plight to minimize the current and future impact on higher education.
Done this day in the city of Monroe, Louisiana, on June 4, 2009
Ronald Bush, President ULM Alumni Association
Northeast Louisiana Legislative Delegation
Members of the Louisiana State Legislature
Dr. Sally Clausen, State Commissioner of Higher Education, Board of Regents
Dr. Randy Moffitt, President, University of Louisiana System
Dr. James E. Cofer, Sr., President, University of Louisiana at Monroe
Dr. Stephen P. Richters, Provost, University of Louisiana at Monroe
Jamie Mayo, Mayor, City of Monroe
Dave Norris, Mayor, City of West Monroe
Photo of Ron Bush courtesy