Gov. Rick Scott’s tuition bill veto rejects pleas of higher education and business officials who said steeper tuition would make the schools more competitive. The veto underscores Scott’s emphasis on holding down the cost of living in the state.
The Legislature cut $300 million from the state’s higher education budget this year, but found a $350,000 gift to help renovate a historic property at Flagler College, whose chancellor is retiring Republican legislator Bill proctor, who also represents Flagler County.
Florida lawmakers and their local replicas seem hypnotized by the buzz of economic development, nattering about it with great stamina. But it’s a hoax, and a costly one. The assault on public and higher education of the last few years proves it.
House and Senate lawmakers agreed to create Florida Polytechnic University, a pet project of Sen. J.D. Alexander’s, and slash university spending by $300 million, paving the way for an on-time ending to the legislative session.
The Senate overwhelmingly approved a $70.7 billion spending plan for the coming budget year on Thursday, with a 33-6 vote, setting up a two-week window for negotiating with the House’s smaller budget.
The proposed increase–and higher ed decrease–comes as Gov. Scott has vowed to veto any budget that does not significantly increase education spending, even though lawmakers are trying to close a nearly $2 billion shortfall without raising taxes.
Breaking with their counterparts at the state’s universities, presidents at a handful of Florida colleges urged lawmakers to be cautious about any moves that could push tuition upward again.
The Florida House approved an 8 percent increase and each state university is allowed to add an additional 7 percent, as universities have for the past several years. Gov. Rick Scott is opposed to the tuition hike.
A measure that would grant in-state tuition to Florida high school students who are U.S. citizens but whose parents are in the country illegally was voted down Tuesday by a Senate committee.
Florida’s quest for more science, technology, engineering and mathematics degrees might eventually lead to a quest for higher tuition for students entering those programs, based on comments by higher education leaders.