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Lawmakers making last minute effort to fund TOPS

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BATON ROUGE - The Capitol is taking last minute efforts to put more money into the TOPS Scholarship program.

The plan requires a tax hike and would only effect those who make more than $100,000 a year. However, Republicans are not in favor of the plan.

The proposal for the tax hike is being proposed by the Senate in order to fund TOPS at 80 percent for next year.

"It would get TOPS up to 80 percent, and we would be able to fund college and universities to the full amount which we think would be a big help," Senate President John Alario.

"We think if we get them up to that level, tuition won't have to be raised," Alario said.

Currently, TOPS is only funded at 70 percent. If lawmakers agreed to the tax hike it could save an LSU student about $700 next year.

However, the House of Representatives already shot down a similar proposal this week and they are not on board with the latest plan.

"I can only estimate that the vote won't change very much," House Speaker Taylor Barras said.

On Wednesday, the Senate Finance Committee passed its version of upcoming budget cuts where K-12 schools would take a hit. Funding for teacher pay raises and special education could fall.

"At a time when local revenue is down, this is a double whammy," Scott Richard, of the Louisiana School Board Association, said.

"When the state is going to prioritize prisoners and higher ed over K-12 and pit everyone against one another for a very small amount of money that has a significant impact across the state," Richard said.

The few things that are getting fully funded under the budget plan are college campuses and hospitals.

Lawmakers have until midnight on Thursday to come up with a final plan.

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