Some of the leges are upset about the growing costs of the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students (“TOPS”). Apparently, the leges don’t understand the cause of the increasing costs.
How it happened
Since Bobby Jindal has been governor, the leges have cut state funding for the public colleges by over $700 million. The money has been used by the leges to fund, among other things, things that are less of a priority than higher education, such as, private non-profit groups (“NGO”s), capital projects for local governments, etc.
Additionally, the leges have increased tuition at the colleges to partially offset the loss of state funds. As tuition rises, the amount each college receives in state funds to reimburse them for the tuition that is earned by students qualifying for TOPS increases.
The leges are seeking to financially-punish the college students for the rising tuition. Among other things suggested by various lege is setting limits on the percentage of tuition reimbursement or making the scholarships more difficult to obtain.
In the latter case, the leges would be breaching a contract made with the students before they entered high school.
Rep. Steve Carter, Chairman of the House Education Committee said: “We have to find a governor that prioritizes higher education,”…. “The governor is the key … we have an opportunity as a group to make sure the candidates who run for governor list higher education as a top priority.” Baton Rouge Advocate, Feb. 18, 2014.
As a floor leader for Bobby Jindal, it is very courageous of Carter to blame a lame-duck Jindal, it he is just scapegoating the problem.
A better solution
The leges have the ultimate say over the state’s budget priorities, tuition increases and the number of public colleges, no matter who is governor.
Perhaps a better solution than the one offered by Carter is for us to simply vote those leges out of office those who caused the problem by refusing to exercise the power they have.
Meanwhile, there are two lege sessions left before the 2015 elections; let’s start holding the leges accountable rather than punishing the college students.