Rick Scott Studying Unlimited Tuition Increases for STEM-Degree Programs

By: Jim Turner | Posted: April 26, 2012 3:55 AM
Florida State University

Florida State University is one of the universities that would be able to seek unlimited tuition increases under HB 7129 | Credit: Flickr - whatnot

Two drafts have been prepared for the governor on the future of tuition hikes at Florida universities.

One backs up his veto of House Bill 7129, which was crafted to give universities -- primarily the University of Florida and Florida State University -- the power to seek unlimited tuition increases from their board of trustees and the state Board of Governors.

The second letter supports the pre-eminent university bill that university leaders said is needed to help improve the national standing of Florida’s top schools.

“What I care about in thinking that through: 'What are we doing making sure our kids are able to afford their higher ed and are we going to make sure they can get jobs?'" Scott told reporters Tuesday.  

Scott has until Saturday to sign, veto or allow the bill to become law without his signature.

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Scott has repeatedly said he is opposed to increases in tuition, while at the same time he wants to see an increase in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) degrees that are seen as building a more viable work force to attract and retain business in Florida.

“I think you have to do what every business has done, you have to find efficiencies,” Scott said. “Business is trying to solve the needs of their customers, in this case the customers (are) partially who pays the bill; partially that comes from the state and partially that's coming from who is getting the degree; partially it’s the employer.”

Scott said he continues to consider the pros and cons of the bill, thus the need for the two drafts having been prepared.

On the con side is the fiscal impact to students and parents, Scott said. The pro side is growing a work force that trained for high-tech jobs the state has sought to attract.

“I don’t want to see tuition increases, unless (university leaders have) gone through and they said, ‘There are no ifs, ands or buts about it. We’ve tightened our belts. This is how we’ve saved money.’ If we can do what the private sector has done to figure out how to do things more efficiently.”

On April 12, FSU president Eric Barron and UF president Bernie Machen lobbied Scott for the power to seek higher tuition that would be allowed under HB 7129.

Known as the ’pre-eminence bill,’ HB 7129 requires a university to meet 11 of 14 benchmarks, in order to seek the tuition rate hikes.
Barron and Machen have both said their schools already surpass the benchmarks and the additional money would help increase staff and programs.

While some students have protested the threat of another year of tuition increases, the two presidents have been calling for the tuition hikes after state leaders began looking to overhaul education, increasing emphasis on science, technology, engineering and math majors.

“We all know corporations are very interested in a skilled work force,” Barron told Scott at the public meeting April 12 in the Capitol. “The top 100 research universities in this country attract $40 billion in corporate and federal dollars. The next 550 universities attract only $10 (billion).”

State law currently limits tuition increases to 15 percent annually, which the schools have taken advantage of the past three years to offset declining state revenue.

Neither has said how high they would like to raise tuition, yet Machen said his goal would be to set a rate for those entering as freshmen in 2013 that can remain flat for four years.

Scott's decision will come in the shadow of his decisions April 17 to sign the state budget that uses $300 million from university reserves and April 20 to speed the creation of the STEM-focused Florida Polytechnic University in Lakeland out of the University of South Florida’s branch campus.

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

Comments (10)

Gordon Wayne Watts
6:31PM DEC 15TH 2012
While I was glad that Gov. Rick Scott eventually vetoed that, I still think Florida will need some outside help, as I describe in my recent editorial -- I'd like others' thoughts on this :) -- Thx.

8:00PM APR 27TH 2012
He has just vetoed the bill.
Robert Lloyd
7:53AM APR 26TH 2012
>>"If we can do what the private sector has done to figure out how to do things more efficiently.”<<

And the public hears this and no one groans? The private sector does things efficiently because they go out of business if they don't. No incentive for bureaucrats though.

Only musket fire will ever change this. No voting booth, no good will of a conservative politician, no turn around in the economy... only the musket.
9:46AM APR 26TH 2012
More 2nd amendment ranting. Maybe a little assessment visit is needed to determine exactly how dilusional those statements really are.
Robert Lloyd
5:34PM APR 26TH 2012
Wow Frank... you are becoming my little trolling friend. Have you no original thoughts to post on your own? That's OK, I enjoy your little nips at my ankles.
7:37PM APR 26TH 2012
No, your paranoia is self-made. I simply respond to inaccurate statements, falsehoods and outrageousness when I happen to see them (you know, things like "musket" solutions). Yours just happen to occur a little more frequently than others in this forum.
Robert Lloyd
8:18AM APR 27TH 2012
>>I simply respond to inaccurate statements, falsehoods and outrageousness <<

Well little buddy... try posting something of your own and see what people think. I know you can do it, but you have to try. It's part of growing up.
7:14AM APR 26TH 2012
College should be 100% Tuition Based so the cost would go down. If College Education was fully tuition based, the cost would go down because the demand would go down. The rush to put everyone in college whether they belong in college or not, drives the demand and increases the costs.

Anything that is subsidized becomes less efficient and cost more. When user pays, it is the most efficient, most accountable, and produces the best results. Look what subsidies did for medical care and prescription drugs, we cannot afford them because they are subsidized and monopolized.
9:41AM APR 26TH 2012
Dumbing down America - again, another great solution from a "Republican"!

God help us when only the rich can get educated.

Or afford medical care. We won't need imaginary death panels.
David K.
5:22AM APR 26TH 2012
Okay so let me get this straight. The governor has two pieces of paper sitting on his desk. One states why he signed the bill and the other states why he vetoed the bill. Huh?

Here is a novel idea, sign it or veto it. Then face a camera and tell the people why you did what you did. Two admit you have two pieces of paper with two excuses on it right now means someone else is pulling the strings in Tallahassee. Man up!

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