A trio of Republican state lawmakers are calling on Gov. Bobby Jindal to back off plans to divert tobacco settlement proceeds from the popular Taylor Opportunity Program for Students, which helps students pay the cost of a public university education.

According to a press release issued by Reps. Cameron Henry of Metairie, Thomas Carmody of Shreveport and John Schroder of Covington, the Jindal administration is:

[P]lanning to refinance the tobacco settlement bonds and use the non-recurring savings to plug holes in the executive budget just unveiled, resulting in a budget deficit for TOPS in the next budget year.  The Administration is also counting on $60 million from tobacco settlement arbitration, the outcome of which is far from certain.  The combination of these moves could result in an ongoing deficit in TOPS funding.

“The administration should be fiscally responsible with these non recurring savings and either pay off the bonds earlier or reduce the monthly payments, not create a budget hole next year,” Henry says. “This is just the beginning of the annual parade of accounting tricks used to balance the budget.”

Adds Schroder: “This is the type of spending that has led this administration to have expenditures exceed state revenues three out of the last four years. Looks like they are using Washington, D.C., accounting.”

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