Scott says ‘no’ to tuition hikesby John Kennedy | January 31st, 2012
Gov. Rick Scott said Tuesday that he’s ready to put the brakes on tuition hikes for college and university students across Florida.
“I don’t believe in tuition hikes,” Scott said.
He added, “We have to do what the private sector has done, what every family has done. We have to tighten our belts to see how we can save money. That’s the first thing I want to focus on: How do we reduce our costs, rather than how do we raise tuition.”
Last week, 300 Florida university students rallied at the Capitol to oppose what looks like another push by the Legislature to approve a tuition increase. Tuition at five Florida universities has climbed 60 percent over the past four years, while students at the other six public universities have weathered a 45 percent boost in that time.
The presidents of the University of Florida and Florida State University earlier this month urged a House committee to give schools authority to begin charging higher tuition for science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs — the STEM degrees that Scott says are the path to employment in the evolving economy.
The House budget committee Wednesday looks set to approve another potential 15 percent boost in university tuition as part of its $69 billion state spending plan. College tuition would climb 8 percent, under the plan.
Florida’s tuition has been climbing even as state support for universities has dropped 24 percent since 2008, shifting more school costs onto students and their families. The state’s tuition remains the 45th lowest rate in the country.
But while universities have been cutting programs to reduce costs, Scott thinks more reductions can be made at the administrative level.
Six-figure salaries paid to high-level administrators seem to have endured Florida’s prolonged economic slump. Over the past year, they’ve become a rallying point at campus protests.
“I want the cost of living in this state to be lower than other states, I don’t want it to be higher than other states,” Scott said. “Would you think that way in business? You’d wouldn’t say, ‘Oh, gosh. The other business, it costs them more to do things, so let me raise my prices.’ You don’t do that. You figure out, how can we be efficient.”