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Rick Scott Shows No Signs of Budging on Tuition Hikes

September 17, 2012 - 6:00pm

Rick Scott cut down efforts to allow some state universities to seek unlimited tuition hikes after the last legislative session.

He would further express his disappointment when the Board of Governors gave four of the states 11 universities the 15 percent maximum increases allowed heading into the current school year.

Scott said Tuesday his position will not change as he sits down for dinner tonight at the governors mansion with Frank Brogan, the chancellor of the State University System of Florida.

Im really concerned about the tuition increases, Scott told reporters Tuesday in his Capitol office.

I cant think of an industry that has raised prices 15 percent year after year after year.And Im very concerned about the amount of debt the students are coming out of school with at a time when its very difficult to get a job.

Scott, who has pushed for universities to offer more science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs, recently sent letters to high school seniors and college freshmen in Florida advising them about their prospects for future employment.

That means thinking about what the job market will look like in five, 10 years.

Read Scott's letter to college freshmen here.

I said, listen, the world is going to change; Facebook is only eight years old, the iPhone is only five years old. Governments are changing; look at the Middle East, Scott said. People are hiring employees from all over the world. Theyre not saying 'I will only hire if theyre in Florida.' Theyre hiring from India, China.

The tuition proposal Scott vetoed in the spring was backed by university leaders that said lifting the 15 percent cap on tuition was needed to improve the national standing of Floridas top schools by paying for more STEM programs.A similar effort is expected to be revived next spring as the university system once again takes center stage during the session..

Meanwhile, Scott has said he intends to maintain at a minimum the current level of funding for Pre-K-12 education, which was boosted by about $1 billion for the current year and may go higher. Any additional funding depends upon the state being able to hold the line on Medicaid and seeing a growth in existing revenue sources such as sales tax, he said.

Scotts education proposals come as the Legislature may enter its first session in four years without the prospect of a budget shortfall.

Members of the Legislative Budget Commission were apprised last Wednesday that after four years in which the gaps could be seen in numbers that included the word "billion," successive sessions of cutting fat have placed the state in line for surpluses of $70 million in the next fiscal year (2013-2014), $53 million in fiscal year 2014-2015 and $600 million in fiscal year 2015-2016.

Reach Jim Turner at jturner@sunshinestatenews.com or at (772) 215-9889.

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