“It it’s not broken, let’s don’t try to fix it,” Senator Francis Thompson of Delhi summed up the sentiment of a majority of the Senate regarding TOPS.
TOPS isn’t broken, but many lawmakers see curbing the cost of the college scholarship program as part of the fix for the state budget. A measure that would have saved an estimated $24-million per year, by raising the standards for TOPS was argued on the Senate floor Monday.
Every year, lawmakers look at the climbing cost of TOPS--$217-million this year, $235-million next year—and then start looking for ways to rein in the runaway expense. Dozens of bills are filed, and all usually die in committee.
Of the 20 TOPS bills filed for the current session, one has broken out of the usual pattern. SB 520, by Mandeville Senator Jack Donahue, is being heard by the full Senate today.
The House Appropriations Committee got a different look at the cost of six years’ worth of higher education cuts Monday, as the push is on for colleges and universities to better prepare students to fill new jobs coming to Louisiana.
Lawmakers have put the final nail in the coffin to close LSU’s public hospital in North Baton Rouge. In Wednesday’s Joint Budget Committee, the Baton Rouge delegation pointed to gaps in care for pregnant women, prisoners and mental health services.
Sen. Sharon Broome said she was appalled that the decades-old initiative to revamp facilities at Earl K Long morphed into moving services. “And we tried our best to get a new facility," Broome said. "Administrations change, goals change. I understand that. But I am very concerned when goals change and people are not considered.”