From the desk of President Leslie K. Guice

Letter to editor: Recognition of legislators

Jun 18, 2015 | Reflection

The following letter was submitted and printed in the Ruston Daily Leader and similar articles were printed in the Monroe News Star and Shreveport Times. We are most appreciative of the work done by our legislators in support of higher education during this past session. By all accounts, Louisiana’s 2015 legislative session was the most challenging session in recent history.  With the $1.6 billion budget gap at the beginning of the session and with higher education and health care as the only unprotected entities for budget cuts, there were huge concerns about how a reasonable solution could be attained during the 9-week session. The initial funding gap for higher education was $608 million – the amount necessary to achieve the same level of funding as 2014-15. For Louisiana Tech and other public universities, there was the possibility of more than an 80 percent cut in our base state funding. This level of cuts would have been devastating to all of our state institutions of higher education and would have had negative economic impacts that would have reverberated throughout all our communities. Even before the official start of the session, our legislators began developing a plan to close the budget gap with a particular focus on placing higher education at the top of their priority lists. House Appropriations Chairman Rep. Jim Fannin worked closely with other state leaders to craft a plan to make up the revenue that would be essential to keep higher education close to the same level of funding as last year. Throughout the session, we were heartened by the support for higher education demonstrated by so many of our legislators. Reps. Rob Shadoin and Patrick Jefferson and Senators Rick Gallot, Bob Kostelka and Mike Walsworth represented our parish and its two higher education institutions admirably. There were many challenges and obstacles that had to be overcome as the session rolled along. But in the end and through the tireless efforts of our legislators, the state budget was passed through both the House and Senate with a level of funding for higher education that is consistent with that of last year. This was a significant step forward for Louisiana Tech and higher education, and the students, industry and government partners, and communities that we serve. We are appreciative of all of our delegation and all those who worked in the halls of the state capitol to achieve these results. We recognize that there were most difficult votes that had to be made and that there were sacrifices made across the state to ensure that we have funding for our institutions. We continue to recognize the responsibility to be good stewards of these resources to meet the crucial educational needs of the State. We would like to acknowledge and applaud the leadership and statesmanship of many of our north Louisiana legislators who supported bills that would provide essential funding for higher education. Now is the time for us to begin even bolder plans to reinvest in higher education to ensure that we have great educational opportunities for our children, economic prosperity for our citizens and long-term competitiveness for our State. Leslie K. Guice President, Louisiana Tech University