In a televised address to the state Thursday, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) said that “you can say farewell to college football next fall” if the state doesn’t fix a near $2 billion budget deficit for the next fiscal year.
“If the legislature fails to act and we are forced to proceed with these cuts the LSU Ag Center and parish extension offices in every parish, and the Pennington Biomedical Research Center will close by April 1st and the LSU main campus in Baton Rouge will run out of money after April 30th,” Edwards said. “Many students will not be able to graduate, and student athletes across the state at those schools will be ineligible to play next semester. That means you can say farewell to college football next fall.”
Edwards noted in his speech, as found on NOLA.com, that the LSU system is not the only one in danger. Thanks to the $940 million budget deficit that Louisiana faces this fiscal year and the $2 billion budget deficit for the next fiscal year, the Southern University System, University of Louisiana System and the Louisiana Community and Technical College System are in the same boat.
“Without legislators approving new revenue this special session, some campuses will be forced to declare financial bankruptcy, which would include massive layoffs and the cancellation of classes,” stated Edwards.
According to Edwards, the budget deficit threatens other universities the state’s healthcare system and the New Opportunity Waiver program, a program for families with developmental disabilities.
To help bridge the gap Edwards said he plans to increase alcohol and cigarette taxes and also intends to add an extra penny to the state’s four cent sales tax, which he claimed isn’t permanent.
“I am proposing this penny as a bridge that will give us time to stabilize and restructure our state’s tax code,” remarked Edwards. “When that restructuring is complete, this penny sales tax will be removed.”
Alongside tax increases, Edwards called for reducing tax credits, suspending corporate tax deductions and making further cuts in an effort to stabilize the budget. Edwards said this would include a hiring freeze and more than $160 million in cuts in government spending.
He also proposed using $128 million from the rainy day fund and $200 million from non-coastal BP payments.