Last night, a Democrat was on TV and pretty much threatened to ruin everything… and surprisingly, it’s not Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders I’m referring to. Louisiana’s newly-seated Democratic governor, John Bel Edwards, gave an address to the state calling for new taxes to be passed by the state legislature. If he does not get those tax increases, then it will mean no college football in the state of Louisiana. No, really.
As I mentioned earlier, if the legislature fails to act and we are forced to proceed with these cuts, the LSU Ag Center and parish extension offices in every parish, and Pennington Biomedical Research Center will close by April 1st and the LSU main campus in Baton Rouge will run out of money after April 30th, as will the Health Sciences Center in Shreveport and LSU Eunice. There is no money left for payroll after those dates. The Southern University System, and University of Louisiana System, and the Louisiana Community and Technical College System are in the same boat: without legislators approving new revenue this special session, some campuses will be forced to declare financial bankruptcy, which would include massive layoffs and the cancellation of classes.
If you are a student attending one of these universities, it means that you will receive a grade of incomplete, many students will not be able to graduate and student athletes across the state at those schools will be ineligible to play next semester. That means you can say farewell to college football next fall.
He calls out LSU specifically by name, because it is the state’s flagship school, and therefore the most recognizable. However, that is a double-edged sword. The LSU athletics machine is a juggernaut that self-funds and generates tons of its own revenue, all due to how popular it is and how much big money in the state is invested in it. There is a power there that Edwards may not be ready to take on yet (if ever).
Edwards goes on and on in his speech about how these aren’t scare tactics, it’s just the reality. Just like the “reality” that, mere hours before he gave his scary speech, Edwards’ administration announced that TOPS (Taylor Opportunity Program for Students) scholarship money is now unavailable, meaning middle and lower class families that have budgeted based on the knowledge that their kids’ college was paid for this semester are now scrambling for thousands of dollars to keep their kid in school.
Between LSU football and TOPS scare tactics, Edwards may have overplayed his hand. We know we face a terrible budget situation, and maybe taxes are part of the answer. But, he has hurt himself with this rhetoric, and it is going to create – if it hasn’t already created – a very hostile atmosphere against his administration (which is one month old).