Tuesday, 18 April 2017 10:30

Consolidating Louisiana higher education, Governor using TOPS as political leverage

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topsOne of the recurring themes over the past few years of Louisiana budget battles, has been--why not consolidate the Universities to save money?

The argument goes--Louisiana has more universities and colleges than larger states, yet, we get less return for our dollars, therefore, should don't we consolidate which would make the system more streamlined?  If we were to do this, we would get greater efficiency at a lower cost. 

Which was an issue I discussed during my Facebook-Twitter-Youtube Live interview with Senator Conrad Appel of Metairie.  Senator Appel, in 2010,  wrote legislation that was promoted by then-Governor Bobby Jindal, that would have consolidated the University of New Orleans, Southern University, and Delgado. 

In our video interview from last week, Appell said that the legislation--had it passed would have served the region, "a whole lot better than I believe we're currently being served". 

Appel recalled that the legislation was defeated in the House by two votes. he said there  "a lot of passion all the sides of this thing and it gets into racial politics which it wasn't". 

However, is there an interest in pursuing this type of strategy to decrease the high education footprint in the state?  Appel, said, "I don't think there's been any other talk of mergers and consolidations at the four-year level", however, he did cite what he considered a "masterful work" being deployed in the technology and community college environment.   

Then, the discussion turned to one of the main issues before the state--TOPS. 

Last year, Louisiana cut back on the program that provided state-funded tuition for those students who made a certain minimum grade and entree on admission tests. 

The Senator said there are a number of bills in the legislature--one "requires students who receive TOPS to prove that they work in Louisiana for four years or so after graduation--they have to reimburse the state. He said, "there are another two or three bills that raise the lower level of acceptability to get TOPS". 

Appel also said regarding the public outcry the state only funded seventy-two percent last year, 'i think you'll see a very strong effort to fund one-hundred-percent going forward this year, but, he won't guarantee any success in that legislation passing. 

The Metairie Senator said, "in my opinion, the governor uses tops as leverage against the legislature to try to get his way on taxes, frankly". 

Watch the short video, for more

Last modified on Tuesday, 18 April 2017 10:40
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