Will La. Gov. John Bel Edwards Veto Awkward TOPS Funding Decision?
On Friday, June 24, 2016, the Louisiana legislature special session (which followed the regular session, which, in turn, followed an earlier special session) ended with an anticipated $300 shortfall.
One of the last-minute decisions from the House concerns the funding of the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS) scholarship funding. It seems that the House has decided to fully fund TOPS for Fall 2016 but not for Spring 2017.
According to Stephanie Grace of the Advocate, the unorthodox House thinking is that parents and students will have time to figure out how to fund spring if fall is fully funded. (Or maybe the state will come up with more money– but not likely.) Edwards wonders about the constitutionality of the odd funding arrangement; the awarding of financial aid is not done in this noncommittal, leave-’em-hanging-second-semester fashion.
The House TOPS decision will effectively leave all TOPS-eligible students in financial limbo for spring 2017. Grace indicates that Edwards could veto it.
Of course, the TOPS chaos will also impact Louisiana colleges and universities.
Meanwhile, Edwards still needs to confront that unaccounted-for $300 million, which will mean more cuts somewhere. But for now, those cuts do not appear to be coming from what Grace refers to “the vast web of business tax exemptions that helped get them in this mess.”
The bottom line is that there is a very-present and persuasive business and industry lobby, but there is no campaign-funding TOPS lobby.
Note that what is not in the news is legislative passage of half-funded business and industry tax exemptions.
We’ll see what Edwards does regarding the House non-solution regarding TOPS funding.
Coming July 08, 2016, from TC Press (revised release date):