A new report by the Louisiana Budget Project urges Louisianans to vote against Amendment 1 in the upcoming October 22nd election. It analyzes the ill effects of using the constitutionally-protected Millennium Trust Fund to free additional dollars in the state general fund.
Should it pass, the proposed amendment to the state constitution would cap the amount of money in the Millennium Trust Fund at $1.38 billion, redirecting yearly payments Louisiana receives from tobacco companies to the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS) that provides college scholarships primarily to students from families that can afford to send their children to college without state subsidies.
“Amendment 1 is an unsound fiscal policy that represents our legislators’ misplaced priorities during the 2011 Regular Session,” says Eddie Ashworth, Director of Louisiana Budget Project. “Louisiana needs a long-term solution to its fiscal crisis that includes well thought out revenue increases, not a quick fix that comes from raiding what are supposed to be protected funds.”
The proposed amendment would make it hard for the state to constrain the costs of the TOPS program that mainly benefits middle- and upper-income families. Redirecting the tobacco settlement money to TOPS means fewer dollars available for health care and public education, areas vital to the state’s economic future.