Lawmakers Wrap up Special Session after Lots of Arm Twisting
Just before midnight, the Louisiana legislature gave final approval to a spending bill that calls for the TOPS scholarship program to be fully funded for the fall semester. But TOPS funding will be trimmed to 42% for the spring semester if more money is not found.
Lawmakers say hopefully the state will see higher than anticipated revenues as a result of taxes passed this year and rising oil prices.
Shreveport Representative Alan Seabaugh says the Governor used trickery and threats to try to get lawmakers to raise more revenue. "He has been completely disingenuous.
Several democrats call the front-loading of TOPS a budget gimmick. Governor John Bel Edwards doesn’t anticipate a higher than expected amount of revenues rolling in, so TOPS students will be left with a big tuition bill for the spring semester.
"It's really problematic," said Edwards. "Especially because normal avenues for student financial assistance are not available at that time of year."