Louisiana College Experience Taking Turn for Worse
by JOHN MAGINNIS - LAPolitics (excerpt)
(N)o matter how scary a picture is painted, it likely won't make legislators overcome their fear of raising taxes, which the governor has promised to veto if they do. There is some support in the state Senate to raise revenue by suspending some tax exemptions, which would still require two-thirds votes of both houses but which the governor could not veto. But opposition to such a move remains strong in the House, where suspending exemptions, even temporarily, is called raising taxes.
Besides, lawmakers say they last year gave the college boards the flexibility to raise tuition 10 per cent per year for the next six years, which feels like a tax increase for parents paying the way or students with college loans. College administrators argue that the tuition hikes are mostly eaten up by increases in insurance, retirement and other rising costs.
Perhaps the biggest problem to overcome for college officials asking for money at the Capitol is their own salary packages, which have escalated in recent years compared to that of other public employees, such as legislators. The budget constriction in higher ed is made all the more painful by how quickly it came about. When today's juniors and seniors started out a few years ago, state funding for colleges reached peak levels and learning opportunities expanded. Now many of those students worry about being able to get into crowded classes they need for graduation. It could be worse for today's freshmen, who have to wonder how much of a college experience will be left for them.