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Too early to say how Lamar State College Port Arthur budget cut will impact campus

The effects an adapted budget for Lamar State College Port Arthur will have through 2021 is too early to tell, according to a Texas State University System spokesperson.

Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Dennis Bonnen on May 20 issued a directive to state agencies and institutions of higher learning to present a plan that reduces general revenue-related appropriations by 5 percent for the 2020-21 biennium.

The entities are also asked to find cost-saving measures that will not affect Texas’ response to the coronavirus pandemic, examples being deferring capital expenditures and avoiding travel expenditures.

Lamar State College Port Arthur President Betty Reynard deferred comment to Mike Wintemute, the university system’s vice chancellor for marketing and communications, when asked how the mandate will impact her college.

“Lamar State College Port Arthur, like all our member institutions, is developing strategies to achieve the five percent reduction,” Wintemute said in an email.

“It is too early to discuss specifics, but the campus community can be assured that reductions will be made in a way [that] preserves the level of quality that our students expect. Our college and university presidents will provide additional information as the effects of the COVID-19 crisis become more clear.”

Last week, Lamar State College Port Arthur and Lamar State College Orange announced students at both campuses can take two three-credit hour courses for free during the summer semester, adding the schools wanted to assist every student “during this time of uncertainty and economic unrest.”

Lamar University and the Lamar State College campuses are members of the Texas State University System.

The governor’s office did list exclusions from reduction consideration:

  • Appropriations to the Texas Division of Emergency Management, Texas Department of State Health Services, Texas Workforce Commission, Texas Military Department and Texas Department of Public Safety;
  • funding for debt service requirements and bond authorizations;
  • current law requirements for the Foundation School Program and school safety;
  • funding for Child Protective Services;
  • benefits and eligibility levels in Medicaid programs, Children’s Health Insurance Program, foster care, adoption subsidies, permanency care assistance and services for individual with intellectual or developmental disabilities;
  • funding for behavioral health service programs;
  • appropriations for correctional security operations and correctional managed health care at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice;
  • appropriations to health-related institutions and community colleges, and
  • employer contributions to the Teacher Retirement System and Employees Retirement System funds and to Social Security.

“As Texans recover from this pandemic, it is incumbent that state government continues to maintain mission critical services without placing a greater burden on taxpayers,” the letter to state entities reads, according to a news release.

“We are confident that Texas will get back to work and continue leading the nation in job growth, economic innovation and business creation. However, it will take months until we know the true extent of the economic ramifications of COVID-19, and how combating this virus will impact state finances. To prepare for this economic shock, we must take action today to ensure that the state can continue providing the essential government services that Texans expect.”

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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