John Kennedy's Blog
“It is a method of borrowing from the future to pay for today’s expenses,” the nonpartisan Public Affairs Research Council concluded, saying the sale process is being rushed by the administration.
LSU system leaders are planning more layoffs. Their state funding has shriveled up. They’ve had to raise tuition, making college an unattainable dream for many would-be students. And Wall Street doesn’t want to loan money to them because of the abysmal way higher education is funded in Louisiana.
At the same time, we’re outsourcing the monitoring of our black bear population, the study of our white-tailed deer, the genetic analysis of our yellowfin tuna, the survey of our big brown bats and even research on the Macondo Oil Spill (otherwise known as the BP Oil Spill) to universities in Tennessee, Georgia, Texas, Mississippi and New Jersey. We’re paying them thousands of dollars.
We’re spending millions of dollars on a state agency’s marketing strategy. Thankfully, the money is going to a Louisiana business, but, still, it’s millions of dollars. We’ve got a $1.8 billion state budget shortfall. We’re dining on steak and lobster when we should we clipping coupons and living on Ramen noodles. Our universities are paying the price for our extravagance.
Now, before you start downloading applications to send your kids to college in Colorado or Florida, let me reassure you. The legislative session just got under way. There’s time to fix this problem.
All we need to do is to stop making Louisiana an out-of-state consultants’ paradise.
State government in Louisiana has thousands of consultants and consulting contracts. Here are just a few:
- Contract #734975; “Monitoring the Louisiana Black Bear Population: Continued Health Of The Population, Monitoring Adult Female Survival & Continue Hair-Snare Work In The Texas & Upper Atchafalaya Population;” University of Tennessee; $189,750.
- Contract #716789; “Effects Of Predation On White-Tailed Deer Recruitment On The Tensas National Wildlife Refuge In North-Eastern LA;” University of Georgia; $315,010.
- Contract #718119; “Describe The Reproductive Biology Feeding Ecology Of Yellowfin Tuna In The Northern Gulf Of Mexico And Assess Genetic Stock Structure Of Yellowfin Tuna And Connectivity Between The Gulf And Other Regional Stocks In The Atlantic Basin;” The University of Southern Mississippi; $546,845.
- Contract #717427; “Research On The Effects Of The Macondo Oil Spill On Coastal Ecosystems;” University of Tennessee; $551,797.
- Contract #734837; “To Complete Planning, Webinars, And Face To Face Training To Improve Supported Employment Services Provided To VR Consumers With The Most Significant Disabilities;” University of Arkansas, $42,500.
- Contract #728593; “Complete Broad Survey To Document Current Distribution Of The Big Brown Bats;” Texas Tech University, $74,129.
- Contract #714507; “Research On The Effects Of The Macondo Oil Spill;” Rutgers University, $413,357.
- Contract #730926; “Provide Assistance In Developing And Executing A Strategic Marketing And Communication Program For Louisiana Department of Economic Development;” $3.4 million.
Two pieces of legislation – House Bill 30 by state Rep. Dee Richard and House Bill 376 by state Rep. Lance Harris – up for consideration this session would cut down on the waste of taxpayer money and toss a life boat to universities drowning in financial problems.
House Bill 30 would create more legislative oversight for contracts worth $40,000 or more. State agencies will think twice if they have to go before the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget before hiring an out-of-state consultant. Money set aside for contracts that are rejected by legislators will go to higher education.
House Bill 376 would establish a clearinghouse at the Board of Regents for federal grants received by the state. The clearinghouse would decide if Louisiana public colleges and universities can do the work for which the grants have been given, instead of out-of-state universities, out-of-state consultants and politically connected nonprofit organizations. This will help both Louisiana colleges and Louisiana taxpayers.
We can save higher education from financial exigency. We can save money for taxpayers. All we need is a little common sense.
“This is like going out and buying a Mercedes and then saying, ‘Oops, I don’t have the money to run it,’ ”
State budget leaves $88 million gap for finishing new University Medical Center in New Orleans.