Gov. Rick Scott to veto 3 percent tuition increase
As Gov. Rick Scott signs a $74.5 billion budget before leaving for a trade mission to Chile Monday, his rejection of a 3-percent tuition increase for state colleges and universities was expected. He has criticized the idea for months, calling it a "tax" on middle-class families.
Scott's veto message says Florida should be proud that its tuition is lower than most states and that students should be able to earn degrees and find jobs without being saddled with "massive debt."
The veto could draw a legal challenge from the Legislature. Tuition is technically not a line item subject to a veto, but is wedged into the budget as proviso language tied to an appropriation that Scott will not veto. Former Gov. Charlie Crist took similar action in 2007, and lawmakers didn't challenge it in court.
Seeking to build a case for a veto, Scott's office asked state university presidents to sign a letter saying they do not want more tuition revenue this year. University leaders collectively decided not to sign the letter, and balked at getting in the middle of a fight between Scott and House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, who led the charge for a tuition hike.
Nevertheless, universities never planned on the additional tuition revenue, worth about $18 million, because they anticipated Scott's veto. Regardless, by law, tuition will automatically rise 1.7 percent to keep up with inflation.