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Thread: Group to lobby for LSU's interests

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    New Tiger PAC on the prowl
    Group to lobby for LSU's interests

    By MARSHA SHULER
    mshuler@theadvocate.com
    Capitol news bureau

    LSU supporters have formed a political action committee that will try to elect pro-LSU state legislators next year and try to generate public support for increased state funding for LSU."We have never really had a presence in the Legislature other than people who just know and love LSU," said Baton Rouge lawyer Jerry McKernan, a founder of Tiger PAC."We find oftentimes we are left out because we don't have the type of voice we need in the Legislature," he said.

    So Tiger PAC will contribute to candidates in legislative races to generate support for initiatives to help LSU "improve its standing in the academic community in this country," McKernan said.

    Louisiana's higher education commissioner, Joseph Savoie, said it's a bad idea that could backfire on LSU."I think what you are going to see is a greater alliance among the other schools, and, frankly, that trumps LSU," Savoie said.Plus, "I'm concerned about any of our institutions becoming just another lobbying constituency. It diminishes higher education's standing as a state obligation," he said."If you make higher education moneyed influence peddlers, then you put us in the pack with all the other paid lobbyists," Savoie said.

    Senate Finance Committee Chairman Jay Dardenne, R-Baton Rouge, said every voice that will help increase funding for higher education is a good thing.Dardenne, an LSU graduate, said the timing of the PAC's creation is interesting "given the TAF (Tiger Athletic Foundation) issue and everything."TAF, LSU's well-heeled athletic booster group, is facing some resistance to efforts to take over more seats in Tiger Stadium and charge more fans premiums for their football tickets.

    Tiger PAC, Inc., is a nonprofit corporation. Besides McKernan, other officers and directors are engineering company executive Lane Grigsby and LSU's director of external affairs, Scott Woodward.

    Grigsby said the political committee wants to raise $500,000 in its first year of operation. "That's our intention and we are making good progress toward that," Grigsby said. Grigsby said PAC organizers are asking people who want to be founding members to donate $5,000, but donations of other amount are welcome."We want to develop a source of revenue which could be used in the legislative process," Grigsby said.

    Grigsby said LSU and its charity hospitals are exposed to budget cuts and haven't fared as well as they should have with state funding."You need to be a part of the political process to get funding. As with any special-interest group, you have to be capable of making a political contribution and bringing public issues to the public," he said.

    Grigsby said he could envision the group educating the public on fiscal reform that could help generate more revenue for state government."Then LSU wouldn't always be on the chopping block," he said.

    But Savoie, the higher education commissioner, said LSU has benefited substantially in recent years from Gov. Mike Foster's administration. Of the new money put into higher education last year, Savoie said, LSU's main campus got 20 percent of it, while the campus enrollment represented only 12 to 13 percent of students enrolled statewide.

    Louisiana higher education's overall governing board -- the Board of Regents -- distributes state dollars to colleges and universities and "that should be as free as possible from political considerations," Savoie said.

    The Regents funding formula benefits LSU the most because the board recognizes the school as the state's flagship university, Savoie said.Savoie said legislators aren't going to support LSU to the detriment of "their hometown institution."

    "The best strategy is a group strategy. It concerns me that someone would want to go it alone. I think it's counterproductive," he said.Savoie said LSU tried to get extra funding last year to the exclusion of other universities and got shot down. The money ended up being placed in a pool where other universities could compete for the dollars, he said.

    McKernan said lawmakers shouldn't only be looking out for institutions in their own back yards."I think in the past there have been certain legislators, certainly not a large number of them, who have not seen the need to continue to elevate LSU's role," he said. "They have been somewhat provincial in their approach in support of education. You have to look at the big picture in higher education."LSU can have a great role in molding Louisiana's future if the proper investments are made, McKernan said.

  2. #2
    Champ weunice is a glorious beacon of lightweunice is a glorious beacon of lightweunice is a glorious beacon of lightweunice is a glorious beacon of lightweunice is a glorious beacon of lightweunice is a glorious beacon of lightweunice is a glorious beacon of lightweunice is a glorious beacon of lightweunice is a glorious beacon of lightweunice is a glorious beacon of lightweunice is a glorious beacon of light weunice's Avatar
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    Louisiana's higher education commissioner, Joseph Savoie, said it's a bad idea that could backfire on LSU."I think what you are going to see is a greater alliance among the other schools, and, frankly, that trumps LSU,"

    This statement is absolutely correct. We need our University of Louisiana system brethren to band together to fight for the table scraps we already get because those scraps could be threatened.

    This is a threat to Louisiana Tech and we will likely need to do something about it. Sad, but true.

    Spread the news to your non-LSU graduate friends.

  3. #3
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    OK folks, I am not a lawyer and I do not have the means to start something like this for the rest of us. I think we should do it, if nothing, just to be a threat.

    This should backfire on them. It is VITALLY important, for our sake, that it does. If somebody decides to do something, post it on every in-state school board including the LSU and Southern system schools. That is something I can help with. They may have less at stake but they are not going to like this just as much as we don't.

    A similar thread on the Cajun Delphi forum will be the center of the discussion.

    http://forums.delphiforums.com/Ragin...ges?msg=8183.1

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