Governor gives possible loss amount for next year’s TOPS

ULM Hawkeye

Louisiana is looking at suffering a huge loss under the budget cuts proposed by Gov. John Bel. Edwards Tueday. Under Edwards’ plan, more than 30,000 college students would lose their TOPS scholarship awards and four state hospitals would be forced to close. Higher education would also see a 6 percent cut.

If things go unchanged, TOPS would be allocated beginning with students who score 26 or higher on the ACT. A needs-based component would also be implemented.

Edwards said he would support legislation that would allocate whatever TOPS money the state has to all students that qualify.

Almost $792 million cuts were proposed to combat the state’s $750 million hole in next year’s budget.

Along with the new proposal Edwards announced that he plans to call a special session before the next fiscal year begins, likely in June.

The state needs more revenue to avoid the cuts, Edwards said. This revenue will probably be raised through taxes.

TOPS would lose $183.2 million under Edwards’ plan and the Department of Health and Hospitals would take a $408.7 million cut. Higher education would be cut $46.1 million.