Lawmaker – TOPS Can Be Funded Without New Taxes
Governor John Bel Edwards in his Tuesday address to lawmakers concerning the state's budget announced the TOPS program would see a cut of $183 million during the next fiscal year. That is really bad news for students and parents of students who are attending or planned to attend a state university next fall.
While the Governor is talking deep cuts and doom and gloom to some degree for the TOPS program one Louisiana lawmaker is not. Cameron Henry, Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee says the state has enough money to fund the TOPS program.
We can reprioritize and maybe say okay we can take some money out of a different agency or another department and use that money to offset the reductions to TOPS.
While the Governor is suggesting that new taxes are the only solution to the TOPS issue Henry disagrees.
It does no good to scare everybody. Having constituents make phone calls and say we’d like you to take care of TOPS is a positive step and it’s what you’re supposed to do but the scare tactics don’t really work that much anymore in Baton Rouge.
What does the current situation with the TOPS program look like in real world terms? According to Joseph Rallo the State's Commissioner on Higher Education, it would mean drastic changes for the program. For example only students who scored a 27 or higher on the ACT would be eligible. That would be the case if no more money were available than what Governor Edwards has proposed in his budget.
Rallo told the Louisiana Radio Network this could be a deterrent to many students who might want to go to college but can't afford it.
We know they’re disappointed but at the same time we would urge them to continue looking at higher ed as the type of thing they really need to be doing for their future and the state’s future.
Rallo also suggested that students and parents wouldn't be the only ones hurt by this large cut in the TOPS programs. He maintains that colleges and universities across the state would suffer too.
If TOPS, for example, the students don’t appear, those tuition dollars will not come to their campus. So they are in the process right now like everybody else, looking at what they can do and every campus is going to be different.
If you take the potential loss of tuition and the fact that the state's higher education budget is on the chopping block for $46 million more in cuts this could spell a disaster for some institutions.