Another spirited debate broke out on the House floor over funding for TOPS versus hospitals that provide care for the poor. On Thursday night, legislators shifted 72-million dollars from the scholarship program to the safety net hospitals. On Friday, Monroe Representative Jay Morris tried to move some of that money back to TOPS, but he faced opposition from Baton Rouge Representative Patricia Smith.

“I don’t think it’s political to try to do what the majority of your district wants,” Morris said.

“The whole point boils down to there are more individuals who need quality healthcare than there are kids with TOPS,” Smith said.

Morris’ amendment to move 36-million dollars back to TOPS failed on a 42-57 vote. Several House republicans sought to fully fund TOPS, at the same time, they said the health care budget was bloated. Bogalusa Representative Malinda White, who has a public-private hospital in her district, fought against Morris’ amendment.

“Well I can tell you that there are abuses going on in TOPS as well with children that don’t make that commitment, that get that funding and then go home,” White said.

Ruston Representative Rob Shadoin also spoke out against Morris’ amendment. Shadoin says he understands the importance of TOPS funding, but health care for young individuals, who can’t afford to go to a private hospital is more important.

“We have thousands that are graduating that will still be able to go to college by enlarge, and that young person lying in that hospital would give anything to be able to go to college,” Shadoin said.

After the discussion on TOPS funding, the full House approved the state's spending plan for next fiscal year, sending it over to the Senate, who will likely make additional changes to funding allocations.