Crist signs law creating state college system
Gov. Charlie Crist traveled west to Niceville this afternoon and signed into law the bill (SB 1716) that turns several community colleges including St. Petersburg College into "state colleges," part of a pilot aimed at increasing access to four-year degrees.
Crist signed the legislation while visiting Okaloosa-Walton College in Niceville, the district of incoming House Speaker Ray Sansom and one of the CC's-turned-state colleges. The legislation establishes the Florida College System and allows, under certain conditions, all 28 community colleges to offer four-year bachelor's degrees in more academic areas than previously allowed. Tuition costs for the degrees are required to be lower than those earned at Florida’s state universities.
"By creating the Florida College System, we are providing Floridians more opportunities to earn a wide variety of four-year degrees," Crist said.
The law also establishes the Florida College System Task Force, to be appointed by the Florida Commissioner of Education. The task force will develop recommendations for transitioning Florida's community colleges to four-year colleges and for establishing funding for state colleges.
Joining the governor were outgoing Senate President Ken Pruitt, Sen. Steve Oelrich, Sansom, Community College Chancellor Will Holcombe and James Richburg, president of Okaloosa-Walton College.