The Louisiana Senate Finance Committee reduced the faculty’s proposed salary increase from 5% to 3% on Sunday and allocated funds for special projects at LSU.
Governor John Bel Edwards has proposed $31 million for faculty salary increases at Louisiana colleges and universities, intended to bring the Louisiana average up to the southern regional average.
The Senate gave the green light to $21 million for increases, reducing the proposed increase from 5% to 3%.
The average salary for a full-time faculty member at a four-year public institution in Louisiana is $72,000, according to the Southern Regional Education Board. That’s over $13,000 less than the SREB average.
Louisiana ranks second from bottom out of 16 states in the region.
LSU faculty have received raises only periodically over the past ten years. Although the university does not offer cost-of-living adjustments, it has offered faculty five “merit increases” since 2010.
Roy Heidelberg, professor of public administration at LSU, said the lack of raises means workers are taking a pay cut.
“If those prices keep going up and your income never goes up as a result, then, in effect, it’s like taking a pay cut,” Heidelberg said.
The professors took to Twitter to criticize the Senate’s decision to cut the increase.
“The President of the Louisiana Senate seems to think that the only reason to give universities extra money for faculty salaries is to recruit new faculty, not to help veteran faculty who have had cost increases. life in just a few years over the past 15 years,” Bob Mann, a mass communication professor tweeted.
“Colleges are centers of communities. They conduct business, establish international relations. They are the reason why young people often come and stay. If you lose those teachers, you cut your knees,” added Elizabeth Gleckler, professor of public health at Tulane.
While the committee decided not to increase salaries at all levels, senators included salary increases intended to recruit professors for specific programs.
The Senate plan includes $250,000 for salary increases for professors at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center as well as $2 million for salary increases for ‘cancer-related’ jobs at LSU’s schools of health sciences in Shreveport and New Orleans.
LSU has requested more than $30 million to recruit faculty.
College professors weren’t the only educators to be disappointed. After the earnings estimate conference projected higher earnings for the coming fiscal year, Edwards requested $2,000 for public school teachers and $1,000 for support workers.
The Senate chose to stick with the $1,500 originally requested for teachers and $750 for support workers.
“It is clear that additional funds were available and we really hoped that we would be considered a priority,” Tia Mills, president of the Louisiana Association of Educators, told the lawyer.
The Senate also approved funds for LSU President William Tate IV’s academic priorities, including $5 million for a defense cybersecurity program.
Cybersecurity is a key part of Tate’s Pentagon plan, for which it has requested $30 million in total and $7 million for the defense cybersecurity program.
While LSU requested $5 million for LSU A&M and $2 million for LSU Shreveport, the Senate included $2.5 million for each LSU A&M and LSUS.
The Senate budget also included nearly $1 million for storm research at LSU.