Universities, TOPS spared from budget cuts for now

Photo by Olivia Barfield

Photo by Olivia Barfield

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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 satis ed, but at least there was an agreement.

“You know you’re in a good place where nobody’s totally happy, but everybody’s reasonably satis ed,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards, accord- ing to e Advocate.

During the last special session, a decision was made during the final minutes.

This time, the session closed seen hours early.

Edward’s plan to fill the budgethole 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.