Special session gives TOPS full funding in the Fall, less after that

Special session gives TOPS full funding in the Fall, less after that
The University of New Orleans (FOX 8)

BATON ROUGE, LA (WVUE) - Louisiana lawmakers reached a final budget deal to raise revenue in a special session that ended Thursday night.

The special session ended around 11:30 p.m. and this morning some of the same problems remain unresolved.

The plan fell $300 million short in filling the $600 million budget hole.

But students who rely on TOPS may be able to at least feel better about this semester.

The new plan approved by lawmakers calls for "front loading" the TOPS program, which means that it would be fully-funded in the Fall semester and any financial shortfall would occur in the Spring semester.

Funding for partnership hospitals that treat the uninsured remains protected.

Unlike earlier plans, the new budget gives higher education a little additional money.

Vouchers and private schools also receive additional funding.

Elementary and secondary education remains about $24 million short.

Sen. Karen Carter Peterson (D-New Orleans) expressed frustration over the partial funding.

"We're going to leave here with not enough money for TOPS, not enough money for healthcare, not enough money for the MFP, not enough money for mental health, not enough money for anything," Peterson said. "Nothing's fully funded. So don't try to cover it up with a little fluffy amendment."

Our partners at NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune say report that Governor John Bel Edwards is still studying the idea of front loading the TOPS program and could possibly line item veto the TOPS portion of the budget plan.

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