Dear Editor….

April 30, 2007
Jessie Darcey
May 2, 2007

For 26 years higher education in Louisiana has been funded well below 100 percent of the state’s recommended funding target. This coming fiscal year, with your support, Gov. Kathleen Blanco’s proposed budget to the Louisiana Legislature will change that. Her budget makes education a top priority.

This is what southern states such as North Carolina, Georgia, and Texas have done to improve the quality of life for their residents, to promote economic development by providing an educated workforce, and to bring their states up from the bottom in those areas where Louisiana consistently ranks near the bottom

This week, the Louisiana Legislature convened for what may be a most historic session, one in which our legislators will have a unique opportunity to invest wisely and well in the future of our region and our state. While this investment will benefit all of Louisiana, it will especially benefit our region by sending more dollars to our schools, colleges, and universities.

Therefore I am asking you to contact your elected officials and to voice your support for the following proposals:

• Enhanced formula funding n to bring our institutions up to near the average of their peer institutions across the South.

• Funding for educational opportunities for need-based students n to help ensure that many of those who have been deprived of a chance to attend college because they could not afford it will now have the opportunity.

• Funding for library and scientific equipment n to provide the latest publications and technology necessary to promote research and learning.

• Increased funding for community colleges n to create and support high quality programs for workforce development focusing on the needs of state business and industry.

• Faculty pay increases n to provide an average 5 percent pay raise for public colleges and universities in order to retain our strong faculties and to attract new faculty members to our institutions by bringing faculty salaries closer to the level of other southern states.

• Staff pay increases n to provide for raises for the support staff at our colleges and universities who have not had a state-funded pay raise in the last ten years.

• Increase Funding for Pre-Kindergarten n to give every child the same opportunity to be ready for school.

• Increase Funding for Kindergarten Through High School n to help to improve the education system in our state.

• Funding of the Teacher Pay Raise n to help to attract good teachers into the profession and help retain our best teachers by getting them closer to the average pay of teachers in the Southern states.

Again, I ask that you support the governor’s request for this funding. Help to move Louisiana forward by helping to strengthen education at all levels. Together, we can build a better Louisiana for everyone.

Stephen T. Hulbert

Nicholls State University, President