Committee passes bill aimed at broadening 'TOPS-Tech' eligible programs

Committee passes bill aimed at broadening 'TOPS-Tech' eligible programs

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The House Appropriations Committee on Monday passed a piece of legislation that would change the process in which programs and degrees are made available to students who use TOPS-Tech funds to pay for their post-secondary education.

Currently, only non-academic programs are available to students who want to use TOPS-Tech funds. Curt Eysink, Executive Director of the Louisiana Workforce Commission says some of those programs, however, may not be in demand, leaving students without jobs upon completion of the program or graduation.

"So you go through all the trouble, you go to school, the state invests money in it and not all of those kids can get a decent job right away. Not kids, adults" said Eysink.

House Bill 838, authored by Representative Edward Price of Gonzales, would allow students to use TOPS-Tech funds for degrees and programs that the Board of Regents and the Louisiana Workforce Council determine are aligned with the workforce needs of the state.

"The hope for a good job is there for those people who go through that training, that those employers who have those jobs actually have a supply of people trained for those jobs and qualified to do that work so that taxpayers get bang for their buck."

The bill would eliminate the current academic versus non-academic eligibility requirements and move to a demand based structure.

"?The standard would be workforce demand and hopefully we can build a system to meet it," Eysink said.

Price says the new structure outlined in his bill would not only provide more opportunities for students across Louisiana, but he says it will also provide more revenue opportunity to the state.

"When you put more people on the payroll, income taxes go up and so it's a revenue enhancing idea" Price said.

If signed into the law, the changes would go into effect in the spring of 2017.

The bill now moves out of the House Appropriations Committee and to the House Floor before moving to the Senate.

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