Tommy: How do we fix TOPS?

Tommy Tucker, WWL First News
March 28, 2017 - 2:16 pm

How should we fund TOPS?  That’s really the big question.  Poll after poll shows Louisianans want the program fully funded, with recipients getting their whole awards; but TOPS is only funded at 70% for the next fiscal year.  That gap could leave 50,000 students paying part of their tuition when they otherwise would not have.

 So…what do we do?  Toughen academic requirements like raising the minimum ACT score or GPA?  60% of people are okay with that.  56% would be okay with prohibiting families in the upper income bracket from getting TOPS.   Should TOPS have means-testing, or should it be for everybody?

We got a lot of different opinions and suggestions, but one stood out.  Shirley called in with her idea, voicing her approval  for means-testing.

“If you want the TOPS program to survive, go back to Mr. Taylor’s original plan for TOPS, which was for low-income children with a GPA of 2.5.”

She also had another idea that I just flat out disagree with.

“How do you get the money?  Go back after all those who were able to able to afford TOPS that were making over $100,000…get that money back, and you will be able to fund the TOPS program.”

You want to go to people who were given TOPS grants and are now successful in their lives, and now you want to make them pay them back?  No, I don’t think so.  But what do you think of Shirley’s idea?

I also spoke with State Representative Cameron Henry, who’s the Chair of the Appropriations Committee, about where the TOPS program stands.

“To fully fund TOPS, we’ll need about $291 million dollars. Currently, Governor Edwards has funded TOPS about $82 million short.”

That’s where we’re at.  So bottom line, we have to take that money from somewhere else or collect more.  Henry said he intends to fully fund the program in his committee with existing money and that there’s no need to raise new revenue.

Where do you stand?  Would you be okay with paying more in taxes if it meant TOPS was fully funded?

Check out my whole interview with Cameron Henry

Tommy, should we raise taxes to fully fund TOPS?

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