Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards speaks at the lectern as the Press Club of Baton Rouge hosts a forum for the three gubernatorial candidates Monday Sept. 23, 2019, in Baton Rouge, La. Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, faced his two Republican challengers, U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham, , right at table background, who has represented Louisiana's fifth congressional district since 2015, and businessman Eddie Rispone, of Baton Rouge, left at table background. (Bill Feig/The Advocate via AP)

Dear Editor,

As a Louisiana native and a graduate of LSU, I am extremely concerned with the $233.3 million cut to the TOPS program that Gov. John Bel Edwards proposed. Not only was he planning to cut TOPS funding, but higher education as well, which would make it hard for students and families to attend and support our flagship University.

Since the temporary 1% sales tax is expiring, $1 billion in state funds will be lost, and it is not fair that TOPS is what is taking the hit. Higher education continues to be hit, and Louisiana needs a governor who will advocate for students. We need to ensure that families and individuals have the ability to not only stay in their home state to earn their degree but also want to stay and help boost Louisiana’s economy. If the uncertainty around TOPS and higher education funding continues to grow, students will continue to leave the state and receive an education elsewhere.

There needs to be a change in leadership. Louisiana needs a governor who will fight to preserve TOPS and push for higher education funding. U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham has always believed in putting Louisiana families first. He will make the changes necessary to ensure there is no doubt on whether the youth of Louisiana will be able to afford attending college in their own backyard. Doc is ready to take control of the budget and put higher education funding as a priority and never let it be on the chopping block again. I am voting for Abraham for governor because I want to make sure that everyone in the state will have the opportunity to obtain a degree in our great state and I encourage you all to do the same.

-Sean Ji-

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