The budget crisis is so bad in Louisiana that, out of sheer desperation, even legislators are starting to think straight. No, really.
I AM NOT making this up. Check it out -- it's in Friday's New Orleans Times-Picayune:
With a $2 billion shortfall looming in the state budget for the fiscal year starting July 1, the state should look at shutting down some of its smaller four-year colleges, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee said Thursday.
"We have too many four-year schools," Sen. Mike Michot, R-Lafayette, told reporters after a four-hour meeting with higher education officials on their proposed budget cuts.
Michot did not say which schools should be closed, but he said turning the Alexandria branch of LSU from a two-year campus into a four-year school a few years ago was a step in the wrong direction as the state was developing a community college system.
"You can stand on the Bonnet Carre Spillway and can be at six schools in an hour's drive," Michot said. "There is an opportunity with a tight budget" to realign schools, possibly merge some and close some.
Sen. Jack Donahue, R-Covington, called for an outside consultant to study the state's college system and make recommendations on which ones may have to go.
Higher Education Commissioner Sally Clausen said her staff and the state's college system presidents have been looking at economies in programs as they face cuts of as much as $382 million in the coming year.
Achieving greater efficiency in higher education and possibly closing some schools should be studied now, said Sen. Nick Gautreaux, D-Abbeville. "It is going to have to happen," he said. "The general public really wants this one."
By Louisiana legislators.
Holy café au lait, Batman!