BATON ROUGE – Faced with threats to higher education made necessary by Gov. Bobby Jindal’s $1.6 billion budget deficit, LSU’s Student Government (SG) made laudable efforts to evaluate the performance of state legislators relative to education policy. The report that resulted, unfortunately, suffered from deeply flawed methodology and painted a wildly inaccurate picture as a consequence. Just as higher education officials were manipulated by Jindal’s GOP backers in the final hours of the legislative session— forced into pressuring lawmakers to support the “SAVE” sham while education funding was held hostage—- the new report has likewise been distorted in service to Jindal’s agenda.
Cherry-picking budget-related votes, the flawed report makes no significant reference to the de facto tax increase on students made possible by the GOP legislature’s decision to allow universities to raise tuition by more than 10 percent annually. Further, the LSU SG’s methodology explicitly penalizes legislators who voted against raising student fees under the umbrella of the “SAVE” money-laundering scheme.
Allies and enablers of Jindal’s failed policies like Rep. Jim Fanin and Speaker of the House Chuck Kleckley are awarded “A” grades, despite their years of support for draconian cuts to higher education that have seen state investments drop from 70 percent to scarcely 30 percent, passing all of the difference on to our kids.
In compiling this report based on such flawed methodology, the LSU SG does the student body a grave disservice, attacking and alienating some of their strongest allies.
“We commend the LSU SG for paying closer attention and rallying students to fight for our universities, but this report reads like it could have come right out of Bobby Jindal’s office,” said Stephen Handwerk, executive director of the Louisiana Democratic Party. “The LSU SG appears to have fallen prey to the outlandish distortions created by the fourth floor and sold to us like snake oil by his acolytes in the House and Senate. My real fear is that this report card attacks those who have been their biggest champions.”