Shared from the 10/21/2016 American Press eEdition



Amendment No. 2 on the Nov. 8 general election ballot is a state constitutional amendment that would remove legislative approval in raising tuition amounts for colleges and universities, leaving the decision in the hands of higher education boards. The American Press supports the amendment.

Sen. Dan “Blade” Morrish, R-Jennings, sponsored the amendment during this year’s legislative session. The Senate approved it with a 30-7 vote, while the House approved it with a 95-7 vote.

Currently, Louisiana and Florida are the only two states that require legislative approval to raise tuition costs. Florida requires a simple majority, while Louisiana requires a two-thirds majority.

The amendment calls for the state’s four management boards — the LSU and Southern systems, the University of Louisiana System and the Community and Technical College System — to approve whether colleges and universities can set tuition rates.

Since the 2008 fiscal year, the amount of state general fund dollars appropriated to colleges and universities has dropped “by approximately 71 percent,” according to The Public Affairs Research Council’s “Guide to the 2016 Constitutional Amendments.”

Supporters of the amendment argue that it will allow colleges and universities to act quicker than the Legislature would and stay competitive, making sure they can recruit students and prevent them from going to other schools.

Under the current system, the Legislature “may also allow political considerations to outweigh academic concerns” when debating tuition costs, the guide stated. The amendment, if approved, would eliminate that.

The Legislature also approved Act 18 during this year’s session. It keeps the amount of TOPS awards at the 2016-2017 levels, unless state lawmakers decide to increase them. Supporters of the amendment said Act 18 is requiring colleges and universities “to be more efficient,” the guide stated. Those institutions may set different tuition rates on different degree programs and keep a close eye on which degree programs are in high demand.

Opponents argue that tuition has nearly doubled since 2007, evidence that shows the Legislature will raise tuition when it is necessary. Approving the amendment could lead to tuition costs being raised so much that potential students won’t be able to afford them.

Setting differing tuition rates for certain degree programs, like business and engineering, could hinder some students who don’t have the money to afford the extra cost.

University officials have mentioned the loss of state funding over the last several years because of the state’s ongoing budget problems. The American Press supports the amendment because it allows colleges and universities to stay competitive with other schools while giving them the control and responsibility to set tuition costs for students.


This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the board, whose members are CRYSTAL STEVENSON, JOHN GUIDROZ, EMILY FONTENOT, retired editor JIM BEAM and retired staff writer MIKE JONES.

See this article in the e-Edition Here