TOPS students will pay nearly 60% of their tuition for the spring semester. So what about future years, will the state direct more dollars to the taxpayer funded scholarship program, so TOPS recipients pay less? House Appropriations Chairman Cameron Henry says if the governor makes TOPS more of a priority in the next session, it will be funded at a higher level.

“I’m committed to trying to do whatever we can to fund it, and I know a lot of members are. We just have to continue to work with the administration to try to get it to be a priority for them, and right now it’s just not,” Henry said.

Henry says in the last session, Edwards made a big push to hospitals, who provide care for the uninsured and poor. He says some legislators saw the funding of private-public hospitals as more important than TOPS, because not all taxpayers have children in college. He says there could be more money for TOPS, if fewer dollars were appropriated for health care.

“The Louisiana Department of Health, their budget has grown over the past 8 years by 51%. All other agencies in state government have decreased by 11%,” Henry said.

Governor John Bel Edwards issued a statement saying he hopes the state can restore funding to TOPS because too many students depend on the program. But Henry says he will not support raising more taxes to fund TOPS.

“I think we’ve raised about as much revenue from individuals and business as we need, probably raised a little more than we need to be honest. I think we are going to continue to push this administration to spend less,” Henry said.