On the Jim Engster Show Thursday morning, Division of Administration Commissioner Kristy Nichols relied on talking points that have been repeated by officials in the Jindal administration.
The Commissioner has cherry-picked her facts.
When Commissioner Nichols addressed K-12 education, she said, "Our budget has never reduced funding for K-12, and in fact the K-12 budget has grown since our administration began by 10%. So we’ve been funding for student growth –" Funding for public education has increased overall since Jindal took office, but student population has also increased – and per student funding has not.
When Engster asked about the $75 million tuition increase for higher education, she said, "Tuition adjustment was always planned, campuses have it in their budget, and that’s what’s reflected in the budget today."
According to a presentation last month by the Commissioner of Higher Education, since Jindal came into office, higher ed has seen its budget decrease by 30% – the first GRAD Act in 2010 has provided some relief. It allows an institution to increase its tuition by up to 10% depending on its graduation rates. But LSU, for example, has said that the GRAD Act doesn’t do enough to make up those cuts.
The budget for state construction projects is floundering, but Nichols said, “We have sufficient funding for our construction projects going forward.” That’s arguable: last week the State Bond Commission met – Commissioner Nichols is a member – and officials have to restructure the state’s debt to allow a little more wiggle room. Bonds for the rural roads project were only approved in part.