Jindal's Tax Exemption Addiction Sends State College Tuition Soaring

There was a startling bit of information contained in the Times-Picayune's coverage of yesterday's budget hearing in Baton Rouge where the Commissioner of Higher Education asked Legislators to give up their power to adjust tuition at state colleges and universities.

The final paragraph of the story said this:

"While college tuitions in Louisiana are still low compared with their Southern peers, they grew by 11.8 percent since 2009-10, the greatest rate of growth for any state in the SREB study. Nationwide, Louisiana has had the highest tuition growth rate in recent years outside of the District of Columbia."

The facts are startling but not surprising. Governor Jindal's tax policies earned the state this dubious distinction and he did it in three easy steps.

First, he put the pedal to the metal on corporate tax exemptions. Since Bobby Jindal became Governor in 2008, Louisiana has exempted more than $1 billion in corporate income taxes. See the 'Fun' chart on the right.

Losing that much money is going to cause a gaping hole in the budget and the second step Governor Jindal took was to make up some of the revenue lost to tax exemptions by cutting state support for higher education. In all, the Governor has cut more than $600 million in state higher education funding over the past five years.

The Governor did not want to wade into the political thicket of closing colleges and universities, so to make up for the state funding cuts, he supported legislation which allowed colleges and universities to raise fees and tuition on students.

The numbers are eye-popping.

Tuition costs to families at state colleges and universities have exploded by numbers far higher than the statistics cited in the Times-Picayune article. Data from the Board of Regents for Higher Education was used to show the tuition increases at LSU, Southern University and Louisiana Tech that are shown in the chart on the left.

Over the course of the Governor's tenure, tuition at those universities have risen in the range of 40% across the board.

Voila! Three easy steps to having the fastest rising tuition at public colleges and universities in the country.

Brought you courtesy of Big Biz Bobby Jindal, who now proposes eliminating all corporate and personal income taxes in a plan that he says must be "revenue neutral."

"Revenue neutral" at this stage of the game is a recipe for continuing to shift the burden of paying for government off those with the ability to pay and onto those with the greatest need for access to government services, whether its an affordable college education, behavioral health services for early childhood development, battered women's shelters, or hospice care for Medicaid patients.

The Governor's indifference -- if not hostility -- to the interests and well-being of the people of this state have become clear. But, nowhere is that so clearly illustrated as it is in what's happened to tuition on Louisiana's public college campuses.

Governor Jindal did not become 'King of the Tuition Hikers' by accident.

He did it the old-fashioned way.

He earned it!
Just say "No!" to more tuition increases; to more budget cuts to higher education; to more cuts in safety net social programs! Tell you State Representative and Senator to say "No!" to Jindal's radical tax plan!
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