BATON ROUGE, La. – The Board of Regents received an update on the state’s projected economic forecast during its annual budget hearing today, as well as system reports on the impact of another year of historic funding to Louisiana’s public postsecondary institutions. Over the last three years, higher education has effectively advocated for strategic reinvestment in talent development to advance the state’s Master Plan goal of increasing college attainment.
Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne and Ben Vincent, an economist with the Legislative Fiscal Office, shared with the Board their economic outlook for the fiscal year ahead, an important consideration as Regents prepares to submit higher education’s budget request next month for fiscal year 2024-25.
“I can say with some confidence the state should have a surplus and one-time money available to spend next year,” Commissioner Dardenne said. “The Governor’s priorities will continue to center around support for early childhood learning but also maintaining an emphasis on higher education and the importance of what education does in terms of supporting the economy. It will be incumbent on our colleges and universities to sharpen their pencils to show their value in translating certifications and degrees into jobs,” Dardenne noted.
As part of the FY 2023-24 budget process, Regents welcomed the system presidents and their chief financial officers to speak about campus plans for utilizing this year’s appropriated funds and to discuss the continuing needs of campuses to improve their competitiveness in a rapidly evolving market.
In FY 2023-24, higher education saw another historic reinvestment of state funding for colleges and universities, with an additional $199.7M provided for priorities including increasing faculty pay ($39.5M), expanding key higher education initiatives such as campus safety ($10M) and cyber assurance ($7.5M), and investing in workforce development in healthcare, broadband, and other high-need fields ($21.25M). Financial support to improve affordability included more need-based financial aid for traditional students ($15M/GO Grants), as well as dollars to fund the newly established M.J. Foster Promise Program for adult learners ($10.5M). Meanwhile, significant increases in capital outlay budgets ($179.5M) will allow campuses to upgrade existing assets while simultaneously creating new spaces to support evolving education needs.
“We are grateful that once again the Governor and Legislature allocated historic investments in talent development in Louisiana. Critical funding has also been provided to improve college affordability and enhance campus infrastructure as we focus on providing the best learning environment possible for our students to learn, grow and graduate,” said Dr. Kim Hunter Reed, Commissioner of Higher Education. “Just like businesses, academia operates in a competitive market. We compete for students, we compete for faculty and we compete for funding. Today our campuses highlighted their strategic plans to advance student and institution success while stressing the need for sustained funding to accelerate the education-to-employment pipeline in our state.”
Each system highlighted its priorities for the current academic year, with all noting the effect of inflationary pressures on operational costs, which are eroding recent re-investments. In addition to implementing faculty pay raises to attract and retain faculty, the systems all emphasized expansion of student-centered services to provide learning experiences and support services that meet students where they are in their academic journey and address the state’s workforce needs.
Highlights from each of the four higher education system budget presentations include:
Louisiana Community and Technical College System:
- Financial outlook priorities of stability and opportunity
- A focus on moving people out of poverty to stability through credential completion
- Average faculty pay raise of 8%, with an average dollar increase of $4,073
- Work at institutions to increase affordability for adult learners, underrepresented minorities, and under-resourced students
- A recognition that the state must address the 41% of Louisiana’s not participating in the workforce
- A request for the establishment of a $40M recurring non-credit fund to produce approximately 20,000 completers per year
Southern University System:
- Focus on improved student outcomes, including summer bridge programs
- Enhance university-community engagement and diversify revenue streams
- Average faculty pay raise of 4%, with an average dollar increase of $2,563
- Positive impacts from SU A&M’s R2 Doctoral High Research Institution designation, conferred by Carnegie Foundation, including increased research dollars and expanded partnerships with other universities
- Significant deferred maintenance and infrastructure needs
- Increased operating costs from rising inflation
Louisiana State University System:
- Focused on financial resources, human resources and facilities
- Record $428M in research and development expenditures
- Enrollments at all-time highs for each of the past five years at LSU A&M, LSUA, LSUE, and LSUS online
- Funding to support a number of priorities including the Scholarship First Initiative, National Cancer Institute (NCI) designation, faculty and staff increases, and IT
- An average faculty pay raise of 3.9%, with an average dollar increase of $3,543, though faculty salaries still lag behind SREB peer institutions
- Creation at LSU A&M of a Student Success Team for each incoming freshman based on a caseload management, population health approach. Students will be assigned to various professionals across the campus, who will partner with them in setting goals, monitoring progress, referrals to campus resources, and ensuring the best opportunities for success
University of Louisiana System:
- Average faculty pay raise of 2.7%, with an average dollar increase of $1,670
- Difficulties in recruiting and retaining faculty in the present market
- Significant budget challenges at some campuses, which are facing both tuition and auxiliary revenue declines from lower enrollments exacerbated by the pandemic, natural disasters, and fewer high school graduates
- Strained campus budgets due to higher energy, inflation, and deferred maintenance costs, which in turn increase the total cost of operations
- Success of the Compete LA program in helping students return to school and complete a degree through a variety of online programs and other convenient class structures designed for Louisiana citizens who have some college credit but have not finished a credential
- Reginald D. Lewis Scholars established to support black male students to support their academic journey
Regents will consider approval of the FY 2023-24 higher education operating budget during its regular meeting tomorrow, September 20, 2022. That action will complete the final step in the FY 2023-24 budget cycle. Regents’ budgetary responsibility is both constitutional and statutory and is specifically granted under Revised Statute 39:32.1, which states that budget proposals are subject to approval by both Regents and the individual management boards.
Work on the FY 2024-25 budget cycle is underway with Regents expected to approve next year’s higher education budget request next month for November 1st submission to the Division of Administration.
Dr. Chris Yandle, Assistant Commissioner for Public Affairs
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