A constituational amendment that seeks to dedicate more dollars for the
merit-based TOPS scholarship program moves closer to final legislative passage as it was approved today by the House Appropriations Committee.
Westwego Senator John Alario is the author of the legislation that would dedicate a portion of future tobacco settlement dollars to TOPS. The Jindal-backed legislation heads to the House floor, where it will need a two-thirds vote to pass. Once it is approved by the legislature it will go the voters for their approval. TOPS supporter James Caillier says this measure will help keep the scholarship program fully funded, even though scholarship costs are rising. The constitutional amendment was approved by the committee unanimously, but getting 70 votes on the House floor might be difficult. Also, Baton Rouge Representative Patricia Smith voiced her concerns about dedicating funding for a program that doesn't guarantee a person will stay in Louisiana once they gradudate college.