The House Appropriations Committee approves a budget for next fiscal year that would fully fund the TOPS scholarship, but that would mean less money for health care and public colleges and universities.
Democrats on the panel voted against the proposed spending plan. New Orleans Representative Walt Leger was the first to object.
“You don’t think you’re giving students false hope today, by offering to fully fund a program that in the past we’ve had the same debate where amendments like this have been removed,” said Leger.
Baton Rouge Representative Franklin Foil authored the amendment to fully fund TOPS and Go Grants,
“Since I’ve been here there has only been one year that we haven’t fully funded TOPS. I’ve said since the beginning, before we had the first special session, that this was a priority for me and I’ve acted in that manner,” said Foil.
But Baton Rouge Representative Patricia Smith says Foil's amendment means over a billion dollar cut in health care.
“So your willing to look at one segment of your district and not look at your district as a whole to ensure that they are going to be able to live and not die?” questioned Smith.
Smith also said this amendment would also mean a 22-million dollar cut for public colleges.
“And all you want to do is fund a program for kids who aren’t doing well in school, and let them go to school and not fund the higher education facilities that they are going to. That just doesn’t connect,” said Smith.
The bill heads to the full House where more changes to the proposed legislation are expected.