First 2018 Special Session Recap
The special session adjourned Monday, March 5th, two days ahead of schedule, after failing to break through the gridlock regarding the State’s looming “fiscal cliff”. The 2018 Regular Legislative Session will convene tomorrow at noon and will adjourn no later than 6:00PM on June 4th. As an even-numbered year, revenue-raising measures cannot be taken up during this regular session. Therefore, the failure to solve the “fiscal cliff” during the special session leaves higher education in the same budgetary position as before the special session:
- $233M reduction in TOPS represents the entire state general fund appropriation portion of the program.
- $13M reduction in GO Grants represents approximately 1/2 of the annual allocation.
- $25.6M reduction to institutions will affect general operating funds.
This “fiscal cliff” will prompt the necessity for another special session if legislators intend to replace any of the expiring revenue streams. Governor John Bel Edwards, along with House and Senate leaders, said Monday that they would support a plan to end the regular session early and then hold another special session in May. As a result, week one committee hearing schedules are uncharacteristically full, and we can expect to participate in a fast-paced session. The House Appropriations Committee will begin Tuesday with a presentation of the Governor’s Executive Budget and discussion regarding state appropriations for several agencies. Higher education is scheduled to appear before the House Appropriations committee during the last week of March. Upcoming committee meetings and agendas can be found on the Legislature’s Website.
A decade of budget cuts means that our institutions mostly rely on tuition to operate. Any loss of enrollment directly affects their total funding for instruction, faculty and labs. Uncertainty remains about TOPS funding, which directly affects parent/student decisions on whether to attend school in Louisiana. Budget instability has also created issues from a planning perspective since the Spring faculty searches are being finalized, classes for the Fall semester are being scheduled, and students are being accepted. Consider contacting legislators and stakeholders in your area to encourage the legislature to resolve the “fiscal cliff” and support a trained and educated workforce as a major economic engine in our state.
Second Extraordinary Legislative Session
The 2nd Extraordinary Legislative Session of 2018 concluded its work at 11:59 p.m. on Monday, June 4, 2018. The Governor called the special session to address an anticipated revenue shortfall of nearly $650 million resulting from the expiration of a temporary one penny sales tax on June 30, 2018.
The legislature failed to pass two sales tax measures aimed at addressing a portion of the shortfall: House Bill 27 by Representative Lance Harris (renew a third of the penny) and House Bill 12 by Representative Walt Leger (renew half of the penny). However, the legislature passed an appropriations bill, House Bill 1, to fund government effective July 1, 2018. Therefore, in the absence of new revenue, higher education is slated to receive a budget reduction of approximately $96 million and TOPS funding is short by $88 million (funded at 70% of total need). Additional revenue is necessary to address the significant budget challenge faced by higher education institutions, TOPS, and other areas of state government.
The Governor indicated that he will call the legislature into a 3rd Extraordinary Session in the coming weeks.
Statement from Dr. Joseph C. Rallo
“We appreciate the diligent work of our legislators over the past weeks on behalf of the citizens of Louisiana. While their efforts on behalf of higher education institutions and their students were not successful, we are confident that they will be able to come to a more successful conclusion in the coming weeks. Higher education remains the economic engine for the state and we know that our legislators share that perspective.”
Third Extraordinary Legislative Session
The 3rd Extraordinary Special Session of 2018 concluded its work shortly after 8:00 p.m. on Sunday, June 24, 2018
The Governor called this special session to address an anticipated revenue shortfall of nearly $641M resulting from the expiration of a temporary one penny sales tax on June 30, 2018.
BASE FUNDING NEEDS
- Higher education institutions and system funding is restored to the FY 18 level of $743M.
- TOPS funding is appropriated at $294.6M, which represents full funding for the FY 19 fiscal year. (Includes $57.9M from the TOPS Fund)
- $3.2M to Southern University for accreditation needs.
- $2M to Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance (LOSFA) for additional GO Grant funding (state funded need-based aid). Total funding is now budgeted at $28.4M. This is the first funding increase for the program in 10 years.
- $1.5M to Grambling State University for STEM program upgrades to increase four- and five-star job production.
- $200K to LOSFA to provide GO Grants for Youth Challenge Program graduates.
Governor John Bel Edwards is expected to sign both the revenue and appropriations bills into law.