Jindal criticizes Obama's college plan, supports TOPS
BATON ROUGE - Louisiana's governor, who has ambitions for national office, released a statement Friday criticizing President Barack Obama's proposal for a plan that would make it free for most people to attend community colleges in the U. S.
Meanwhile, Governor Bobby Jindal is a supporter of the TOPS program in Louisiana which pays for graduating high school seniors to attend public universities, community colleges and trade schools in Louisiana.
The president's proposal would have the federal government pick up 75 percent of the tab for people to attend community colleges for two years, if they maintained a 2.5 GPA and met other requirements. The states would pick up the remaining 25 percent of the cost.
On Friday, Jindal said the president's plan was an example of entitlement programs run amok.
"President Obama has increased our national debt by $7.5 trillion dollars and created a new entitlement program at a time when our current entitlement programs are going bankrupt. So of course, now he is planning to offer two years of taxpayer paid college," Jindal said. "Why stop there? Why not have the government buy a car and a house for everyone? We believe states are better positioned than the federal government to handle initiatives like these."
Lawmakers in Louisiana have expressed concerns about the rising costs of the TOPS program, which the La. Office of Student Financial Assistance forecast in October could increase to $294 million by 2020. In 2013 Jindal opposed putting any caps on the TOPS program, calling it a good investment for the state.
A recent budget proposal from Jindal's administration called for $370 million in higher education cuts and drew criticism from House Speaker Chuck Kleckley, a fellow Republican who often sides with Jindal. The cuts come as the state is facing a budget shortfall of $1.6 billion, which could grow worse due to sagging oil prices.
News 2's Ambria Washington gathered local reaction by speaking with some students at Baton Rouge Community College. According to the students she talked to on Friday, they think Obama's plan is a good idea and pointed out that the program would benefit many non-traditional students. Many also say they never expected to have loans while attending a community college.
"Our non-traditional students struggle with balancing work and school and a lot of them children," said MiaNwi Obioha, Vice President of Student Government at BRCC. "It would help students get an Associate's degree and will help simulate the economy. It'll encourage them to pursue a bachelor's degree.
Jindal is scheduled to co-host a prayer rally called "The Response" for Jan. 24 at LSU's Pete Maravich Center. Rick Perry used a similar rally with the same name and co-hosted by the same group, the American Family Association, to announce his intentions to run for president in 2011.