By Robert Mann
Every morning, our dog, Chloe, performs tricks for my wife in return for small treats. She’ll sit, roll over and dance for a few tasty morsels.
In this way, Louisiana’s higher education leaders resemble my dog. They’ll roll over for a little budgetary kibble from Gov. Bobby Jindal.
Just this past week, in a scene befitting the Westminster Dog Show, Jindal’s aides organized an event at LSU to announce an end to six years of draconian higher education budget cuts. Groomed and obedient as the best pure breeds, the system presidents and other education leaders lined up behind Jindal. You could almost see them panting as the governor flung his scraps on the floor.
At first, what Jindal threw out seemed like a real meal. The governor said he would increase funding for Louisiana colleges and universities by $142 million. By one estimate, it’s only a 6.6 percent increase over the current fiscal year, but at least it’s not a cut.
Upon closer inspection, however, we learn that Jindal’s proposal is to actual reinvestment what Alpo is to filet mignon – a cheap substitute. Of the additional $142 million, $88 million will come directly out of the pockets of students (and the TOPS program) in the form of increased tuition. Jindal will generously allow students and their parents to pay more to attend college and will magnanimously permit those schools to keep the money.
After discounting tuition increases, Jindal will shower higher education with an additional $54 million. To provide some perspective, the entire higher education budget this year is $2.6 billion. Jindal’s increase in additional state appropriations is a measly 5 percent. Keep in mind that since he became governor, he’s slashed state appropriations to higher education more than any governor in the nation — by 80 percent.
Yet, just like my dog, the college presidents lapped up the meager treats Jindal tossed their way. Unlike my dog, however, they weren’t dancing because the scraps are so tasty. They wagged their tails over Jindal’s generosity because they had no choice. He’s their master. They know well what has happened at LSU in recent years, as numerous administrators – including a chancellor and a system president – were fired or chased off because they were unwilling to be a Jindal lapdog.
Continue reading at NOLA.com