Election may alter TOPS

October 20, 2011

Staff Reporter


Louisiana’s state elections will be held Saturday and some state constitution ballot amendments could bring a positive change for Tech students.


Five state constitutional amendments are on the ballot this election, the first of which could impact Tech. This amendment would give additional funding to the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS), according to the Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana.


“I think the biggest concern for a lot of us is the funding of state universities,” Jason Pigg, an associate professor of political science said. “I think this is one of those areas where they would like to see more money devoted to the schools since that is something that will help the state in the long term.”


TOPS is a major scholarship program in Louisiana. Currently, one-third of all full-time students receive scholarships from the program in Louisiana. The program costs approximately $145 million for this school year, according to the Public Affairs Research Council.


Some students like Trey Mire, a freshman chemistry major, think that it would be a good thing for Tech.


“Hopefully it will make it easier for people to come here,” Mire said. “More people at Tech isn’t a bad thing. Generally, it should improve everything for everyone.”


According to Public Affairs Research Council, a majority of the funding for TOPS now is from the state’s general fund, and another portion is from the investment earnings of the Millennium Trust was established to collect settlement earnings from litigation between tobacco companies and the state of Louisiana. With the passage of this amendment, TOPS funding will also come from the tobacco settlement money in the Millennium Trust.


Pigg said he is concerned about the source of funding for TOPS if this amendment is passed.


“I think one of the concerns is how much money will really go into TOPS because of it,” he said. “Is it going to be additional money or is it essentially going to be replacing money the state would have put in from other sources? I think it’s one of those things that is going to be hard to tell how it will actually work in practice.”


In order for all of this to go into effect, people have to vote on these issues.


There are additional factors that might affect the voter turnout in the upcoming election.


“It’s usually pretty low when it’s not a presidential election year when there aren’t really anymore highly visible state races going on,” Pigg said.


“Even though Louisiana traditionally has pretty high voter turnout compared to other Southern states, I’m guessing that it will be pretty low this year.”


Some students believe it is important to vote because it is their responsibility as Americans.


“I am going to vote because it’s my duty as a citizen,” said Codi Cummings, a freshman elementary education major. “We’re going to inherit the world, and we don’t want people who don’t have a say in the election leading it.”


Although it is important to vote, Pigg thinks it is also important that the voter is aware of the issues and that the voter understands what he or she is voting on.


Pigg said he hopes students will go vote but also encourages them to read guides to the constitutional amendments before they enter a voting booth.


“You can’t always trust the language that you read on the amendment to be a good guide to what it will actually do,” Pigg said.


Some Tech students believe that in order to make an impact, voting is essential. Mire thinks voting is important in making a difference in our political culture.


“I feel that if a student wants to affect a change in society then one of the best ways to do that is to vote,” Mire said.


Email comments to mmb041@latech.edu.



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