The budget will be the top item as the Louisiana Legislature opens it’s spring session. In an interview with The Journal, Senator Gerald Long said the three things lawmakers face are adequate funding for needed state services, cuts in the budget where needed, and to manage government more effectively.
In his district, Long said, “funding the TOPS program is one of the priorities. People want to know if their children can go to college and will TOPS be there to help pay for it. If the state is going to continue funding TOPS at the present level they will have to increase requirements.”
The Journal spoke also with representatives Kenny Cox and Terry Brown. Among options mentioned for keeping the TOPS program in place are increasing the grade point average (GPA) to qualify for TOPS and some system of having students pay back their scholarship. One way would be a requirement that the student work in Louisiana after graduation. Another option would be to require repayment if the student did not complete the educational program.
Another item of interest to Senator Long is funding for health care. He said, “Long-term health care in the state is tied to maintaining LSU Health Science in Shreveport. Long said, “For every dollar the state puts up the federal government will put up 4 or 5 dollars.
Long favors taking every step possible to reduce spending. He noted, “Under the leadership of Governor John Bel Edwards we have already cut $900,000,000 from the budget. The work of going through every department’s budget and cutting where they can is continuing.”
The governor has asked that the one-cent state sales tax enacted several years ago not be renewed. Long agreed saying “raising more taxes is a last resort.”