Louisiana Higher Ed Underfunded by Trump Cabinet Prospect, Bobby Jindal
In 1989, Louisiana businessman Patrick Taylor convinced the Louisiana legislature to fund what would be called the “Taylor Plan”— payment of four years of tuition and fees for Louisiana students to attend college based upon high school GPA and ACT-score eligibility requirements– with initial program eligibility also hinging upon income requirements.
In 2008, the Taylor Plan was renamed the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS).
TOPS is funded via both general fund and tobacco settlement monies. However, the days of a fully-funded TOPS program are limited given that TOPS costs have been rising notably (e.g., 2001: $104 million; 2015: $250 million; by 2020, projected to be over $300 million).
Meanwhile, Louisiana has been facing years of budget crisis. In 2015, the Louisiana legislature voted to put a cap on TOPS funding; even Taylor’s widow agreed to the cap as a means of preserving the program. However, then-governor Bobby Jindal vetoed the TOPS cap despite the fact that he had no solution to the ever-increasing costs of TOPS and only temporary, patchwork solutions for the 2015 Louisiana budget crisis.
Even though it made a good sound byte for Jindal (who was then planning a 2016 presidential run) to say,
I made a promise to the students and families of this state that a TOPS scholarship would be available to every child who worked hard and met the performance criteria established by law — this legislation would renege on that promise,
the reality is that in spring 2016, TOPS was only funded 80 percent– and the colleges and universities had to absorb the shortfall.
Add that to Jindal’s cutting higher ed funding by 55 percent since the economic crisis of 2008, as the February 2016 Hechinger Report notes in a story originally printed in the Advocate:
When Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal took office eight years ago, stateLouisiana Higher Ed Underfunded by Trump Cabinet Prospect, Bobby Jindal | deutsch29: