House GOP leaders favor tuition program over health care

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BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana House Republican leaders have prioritized the popular TOPS college tuition program in next year's budget, choosing to shield the awards from cuts while making steep reductions across health services for the poor and disabled.

House Appropriations Committee members on Monday rewrote the spending plan for the financial year that begins July 1. The majority-Republican committee decided to make the lion's share of cuts to close a $648 million shortfall in the health department.

TOPS would be fully financed, but higher education campuses would take $22 million in reductions.

With a 17-6 vote, the committee sent the budget proposal to the full House for debate. All but one Republican backed the spending plan, while all Democrats voted against it.

The full House is expected to debate the bill Thursday.

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