The old saying about financial common sense is that when in a hole, stop digging. The House Appropriations Committee agreed, killing two Senate-passed bills that would have expanded eligibility for the popular TOPS tuition waivers at state colleges.
The budget-writing committee rejected Senate Bill 380 by state Sen. Wesley Bishop, D-New Orleans, to create a new award for students who weren’t eligible for TOPS at first but after two years in college meet criteria for the Tuition Opportunity Program for Students.
Another measure, Senate Bill 394 by state Sen. Bodi White, R-Baton Rouge, would have created a new award for TOPS students who attend community college, get an associate degree and enroll in a four-year university.
In both cases, we think the committee — which is, after all, responsible for the budget — acted properly to avoided costs of the expensive waivers. But we also worry that legislators, seeing how popular the program is, use any opportunity to water down the already minimal academic requirements of the waivers.
This kind of populist spending is why the state is constantly in a budget hole, and why legislators should stop digging us in deeper.