Dr. Bill Richardson, Vice-President for Agriculture
Dear LSU AgCenter Supporter,
On Friday, Gov. Edwards announced that he would veto House Bill 1, the state operating budget proposed by lawmakers for the new fiscal year that begins on July 1. As adopted, the bill included $664 million in reductions to state agencies. Higher education's allocation of the cuts totaled more than $96 million, plus a 30 percent reduction to the TOPS scholarship program.
Had this budget been signed, the LSU AgCenter would have lost more than $10 million, or 15 percent, of its state funding support. Reductions of this magnitude would be devastating. To put this in perspective, the following hypothetical explanation points illustrate the impact this reduction would have caused:
- Financial exigency would be required to meet the $10 million reduction to the general fund.
- Elimination of more than 30 percent of faculty and staff would be required to meet the $10 million reduction. This would include positions in 4-H, agriculture and natural resources, nutrition, research stations and academic departments.
- If the AgCenter was to eliminate all 4-H programs and personnel, this would only generate an estimated $6.8 million. This would result in the elimination of programs and positions in all 64 parishes and a corresponding loss of 4-H members and other participants.
- If the AgCenter was to eliminate all of the research stations across the state, a savings of just over $11 million would be realized.
- If the AgCenter was to eliminate all of the agricultural and natural resources extension programs and corresponding agents, only $6 million would be generated.
- If the AgCenter was to eliminate all academic departments, it would barely generate sufficient funding to meet the reduction.
A 15 percent cut would have a disastrous impact on teaching programs. Research faculty are the primary teachers of College of Agriculture courses. This cut would further impact funding opportunities through the loss of grant funds and cause increased turnover due to widespread staffing shortages. Also, our clientele would not receive services essential to agriculture industries.
On Monday, the governor called for a special session to convene on May 22 at 4 p.m. The intent of this session is to generate $664 million in revenue to offset more than $1.3 billion of expiring revenue. Improved economic outlooks for revenue were recognized earlier this session, and changes to the federal tax structure allowed additional revenue to come to the state, leaving only $664 million necessary to fill the gap.
As we informed you earlier, there is, and has been, much controversy among legislators on taxes and revenue opportunities. We do not know what will actually be palatable when a final vote comes. We encourage you to contact your legislators to inform them of the impacts such reductions to the AgCenter would have in your area and to discuss sensible solutions to address the $664 million shortfall they are trying to fill.
You can help by contacting your State Senator and Representative to:
- Educate them on the value of our programs to them and their community.
- Explain that further budget reductions will cause the elimination of parish based extension services, termination of valuable research initiatives, closure of research stations and reduction in teaching programs.
- Stress the importance of quickly finding solutions to resolve the budget issue.
Your legislator's contact information can be located at this link
Thank you for showing support for your LSU AgCenter,
William B. Richardson
Vice President for Agriculture and Chalkley Family Endowed Chair
Dean of College of Agriculture
101 Efferson Hall
Baton Rouge, LA 70803