One drumbeat of opinion that relentlessly will be propagated by some in the upcoming debate is that Louisiana higher education has suffered horribly as result of fiscal retrenchment in recent years, necessitating that existing levels of funding be maintained, if not increasing them that require additional revenues on way or the other. This view ignores the facts surrounding actual higher education spending in Louisiana.
Six months after Gov. Kathleen Blanco took office, in that fiscal year the state spent about $2.342 billion on higher education, serving (by the fall headcount) 214,144 students, of which 29 percent was self-generated (most of this being tuition and fees), or a per-student cost of $10,937 ($7,765 to taxpayers). Four years later, a half-year after Gov. Bobby Jindal recited the oath of office for the first time, $2.878 billion was spent (25.9 percent self-generated) on 207,760 students, or a per-student cost of $13,853 ($10,265 to taxpayers). Then, last completed fiscal year, $3.012 billion (37.5 percent self-generated) paid for 225,835 students, or a per-student cost of $13,337 ($8,336 to taxpayers).