Lawmakers say TOPS is priority, but how will they fill gap?

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BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Legislative leaders told higher education officials they hope to fully fund the TOPS college tuition program in next year's budget.

But they stopped short of making promises.

House Speaker Taylor Barras; Rep. Walt Leger, the top-ranking House Democrat; and Sen. Sharon Hewitt, who sits on the budget-writing Finance Committee said at a Monday conference that TOPS is a funding priority.

In Gov. John Bel Edwards' budget proposal, TOPS would only pay for about 70 percent of students' tuition next year, just like this year. The Edwards administration is proposing ways to raise more money and says new dollars would help fill the TOPS gap.

But it's unclear if revenue-raising measures will pass.

Barras and Hewitt, both Republicans, said they support "scrubbing the budget" to help shift more money to TOPS.

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