TOPS spared cuts for now
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The Louisiana Legislature spared higher education and the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS) from budget cuts when they closed out of special session last Wednesday, Feb. 22.
Compromise brought the close of the special session, with most legislators agreeing that they weren’t fully satisfied, but at least there was an agreement.
During the last special session, a decision was made during the final minutes.
This time, the session closed seven hours early.
“You know you’re in a good place where nobody’s totally happy, but everybody’s reasonably satisfied,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards, according to The Advocate.
Edward’s plan to fill the budget hole called for the protection of higher education and TOPS funds. Although these have seen drastic cuts in recent years, they are safe for the time being.
However, it is estimated that the state will face a $400 million shortfall in the next fiscal cycle.
Legislators have already begun working on plans to close that gap.
The special session closed a $304 million mid-year budget deficit by pulling $99 million from the state’s rainy day fund and making cuts in several areas.
The largest cut was made to the Louisiana Department of Health at $40 million.
The Legislature will see a $3.5 million cut, and about $2 million will be taken from the Louisiana Legislative Auditor.