Louisiana has no money. The state is currently operating with a $940 million budget deficit that is set to balloon to $2 billion in the next fiscal year. (Nola.com has a good breakdown of how the state got in such a dire position, but if you want the short answer, it’s that former governor Bobby Jindal boned everything.) The state legislature is about to convene a three-week special session to try and approve a new budget. Newly elected Governor John Bel Edwards went on TV last night, and dropped the one bomb that’s sure to put pressure on legislators: he threatened LSU football.
From Edwards’s speech:
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.
Sure, this is a pretty transparent case of political saber-rattling, but you can’t blame Edwards for pulling out all the stops. As it stands now, Louisiana is well and truly fucked, and if getting a few angry Tigers fans to call their state representative will help speed the new budget along, then more power to him.