TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Gov. Rick Scott and college students are winning the battle against tuition hikes. On Monday, Scott signed a bill to give research universities more funding without charging students more money.
The House is still asking students to pay more, but the proposed tuition increase is shrinking.
Last April, Scott was surrounded by university presidents pushing a bill to give some of them unbridled tuition authority.
Despite all the persuasive arguments for the preeminence bill, Scott stood his ground. He vetoed the bill to keep cost low for students.
"You want to make sure that families in this state can afford a great education, and you want to make sure it's a great education," Scott said.
Surrounded by university presidents once again Monday, Scott signed similar legislation. This time, the tuition increase was left out of the preeminence bill, replaced by $15 million for top Florida universities.
"Last year the preeminence bill was focused on a tuition increase, and the governor felt that tuition increase was a burden for families in an economy that was recovering," Florida State University President Eric Barron said.
The bill signing signals a partial victory for college students. There is still a chance the state Legislature votes to raise tuition.
The governor still opposes any tuition increases, but the Legislature must act first.
"I've got my priorities, they have their priorities," Scott said. "I believe we are going to have a great session."
The House was pushing for a 6-percent increase. The ask was lowered to 4 percent.
"As I understand it, the House still wants a tuition increase, the Senate does not, the governor does not," University of Florida President Bernie Machen said. "I'm not taking a bet on that game. The universities are pretty much just staying out of it."
Before the 2013 legislative session began, university presidents unified under a no tuition increase banner. The one condition: the state legislature increase funding.
The budget negotiations between the House and Senate continue. Both chambers have agreed to restore the $300 million cut from universities last year. They've yet to make a deal on the additional $100 million the schools are seeking.