Southern And Grambling Won The Budget But Lost A Friend

One thing which seems to stand out about the conference report from the 2013 state budget was that somebody’s vote got bought.

You can figure out whose vote that was.

The Southern University system got an extra $2 million from what was in either the House or Senate budgets. And Southern’s campuses at Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Shreveport got an extra $1.5 million each.

Yes, SUNO got $1.5 million in extra money. Maybe they can use that funding to pump their six-year graduation rate up to seven percent.

And Grambling got an extra $2 million to fund its library.

Interestingly, even with all that swag for the black colleges, Karen Carter Peterson still voted against it. Peterson was the only vote against the budget in the Senate; it passed the smaller house by a 38-1 margin and passed 104-0 in the House.

She’s only the chair of the Louisiana Democrat Party, after all. Why not be an outlier voting against everybody else in her party?

You’re hearing lots of happy thoughts from the governor and the legislators now about a $25.4 billion budget which seems a lot richer than what it had been billed as throughout the session. There seems to have been a whole lot more revenue coming in than anybody expected when the governor’s budget hit the legislature loaded with one-time money. That’s been scraped out, save for about $80 million, and yet the budget got bigger.

If you’ve digested that and come to the conclusion that (1) the Revenue Estimating Conference doesn’t have the first clue how much cash is coming into Louisiana’s coffers and (2) give it a few months and the mid-year budget cuts are inevitable, then you’re not crazy.

Which means that Southern, SUNO, SUSBO and Grambling might be celebrating now thanks to the leges who fight for them having their votes bought with that free cash – and it seems surprising that their votes were needed in a budget which passed nearly unanimously – but in six months they could be singing a different tune. As will the other colleges which are likely to experience the mid-year cuts sure to come when the state treasury doesn’t actually fill up to the tune of $25.4 billion over the next year.

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