THIBODAUX – If the budget bill (HB1) currently moving through the Louisiana Legislature is not amended, Nicholls State University is slated to lose $7.7 million in state appropriations. This will bring Nicholls’ total state funding reductions since fiscal year 2008-2009, to $19.9 million. That would be a 56-percent reduction in state appropriation. As the current budget proposal stands, total reductions in state general fund support for all of higher education since FY 2008-2009 would reach $585 million.
“Clearly, I am very concerned about any further cuts to higher education, but the possibility of a total of $7.7 million in cuts to Nicholls is frightening,” Dr. Stephen T. Hulbert, university president said. “Cuts of this magnitude would require even more dramatic reductions in student and administrative services. Additionally, they would have an effect on academics – larger classes, fewer class sections and more faculty positions being held vacant. However, I am absolutely committed to protecting our academic programs.”
Over 70 percent of Louisiana’s operating budget is protected through constitutional or statutory dedications, federal mandates and unavoidable obligations. Higher education does not enjoy any constitutional protection from cuts. Consequently, since 2008, as the state has faced significant shortfalls, higher education, along with healthcare, has taken the brunt of the reductions.
“Higher education has been notified that of the $268 million shortfall in the budget for next year, $134 million will be taken from our allocations,” said University of Louisiana System President Randy Moffett.
Over the past four years, reductions to higher education have been mitigated in part by one-time funding and raising tuition and fees. Even with increases in tuition over the last few years, it has not been enough to close the gap in funding.
Since 2008, Nicholls has taken steps to address declining resources such as eliminating 11 academic programs and concentrations, cutting 99 positions campus-wide, freezing salaries, and restricting travel and supply purchases.
“Our state funding has gone down while state-mandated costs for health insurance and retirement have gone up. Something has to give,” Hulbert said.
Since FY 2008-2009, state funding to Nicholls has decreased $13 million. During that same time frame, state mandated costs have risen by almost $4 million. Although recent tuition increases have generated $9 million in revenue, the net result remains a loss of nearly $7 million.
“The reality is that these cuts have greatly affected the university, its faculty, staff and students,” Hulbert said. “However, despite these ongoing financial threats, Nicholls has worked to remain academically strong in service to the higher education needs of our region. We will continue to work with our legislative delegation to ensure that Nicholls State University remains strong for generations to come.”