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Scott calls tuition hike a “tax increase…that must be stopped”

Friday, May 24th, 2013 by John Kennedy

Gov. Rick Scott underscored his veto this week of a 3 percent tuition hike by sending letters Friday to administrators at the
state’s 12 public universities, calling a tuition hike, “a tax increase on our families that must be stopped.”

With assurances already in hand from most schools that they won’t seek an increase from the State University System’s Board of Governors, Scott’s letter is aimed chiefly at blunting an automatic, 1.7 percent cost-of-living boost.

The provision was included in state law to help schools meet rising costs, even when no tuition hike is approved.

But Scott appears intent on getting schools to refuse the inflation dollars.

“As with many matters that come before us, I know there are several legal opinions concerning who would implement a tuition increase and how they would go about doing it,” Scott said in his letter.

“Again, we are committed to fighting against any tuition increase in Florida,” he added. “We should be proud that our state offers affordable tuition and a high quality education, just as we are proud to have no state income tax.”

Running for re-election next year, Scott could have the distinction of being the first governor in almost two decades to halt Florida’s tuition rise. It appears Scott and his advisers see the cost-of-living provision as a potential asterisk on an otherwise potent political claim – one aimed directly at a possible rival.

Scott’s predecessor, former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist, is now a Democrat who many expect to seek that party’s nomination for governor next year.

Under Crist, lawmakers and business leaders across Florida had pushed through legislation giving universities more authority to raise tuition. Crist joined with the Florida Chamber of Commerce, Council of 100 and others in promoting tuition hikes as a means of plowing more dollars into universities.

After tough talk, Legislature’s budget deal begins to take shape

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011 by John Kennedy

The House and Senate have agreed to budget allocations — a broad spending agreement that allows lawmakers to now begun negotiating tomorrow on differences between the two sides, House Speaker Dean Cannon and Senate President Mike Haridopolos announced Tuesday.

The move comes after tough words were exchanged a day earlier between the two sides. But even more significantly, the Senate abandoned its resistence to putting on next year’s ballot a Cannon plan to overhaul the Florida Supreme Court.

It also gives lawmakers some hope of ending the legislative session May 6 — the final scheduled day of the 60-day session.

“Resolving a budget shortfall of nearly $4 billion is a tall order, but I’m pleased the House and Senate wored through this difficult process,” said Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island. “Our allocations ensure that we preserve our bond ratings by maintaining adequate reserves. Most importantly, we do not take money out of the struggling Florida economy by increasing taxes or fees.”

Haridopolos apparently is overlooking the tuition increases, pay cuts to government employees, reduced education financial aid and possible increases to property insurance, telephone and electricity rates that are either part of the state budget or still in play as lawmakers roll through the legislative homestretch.

Cannon said he would announce his House budget negotiating team this afternoon, with the Senate also naming its deal-makers. The conference committee’s first meeting is scheduled for Wednesday morning.

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