College kids, 'the ultimate stimulus,' visit Crist
The student presidents of Florida's state universities outlined their agenda in a meeting with Gov. Charlie Crist this morning at the mansion. That includes a flexible tuition increase of up to 15 percent at each school, continued support for Bright Futures scholarships, a better way to reward and retain star teachers and no more budget cuts on campus. Crist listened attentively and said he hoped federal economic stimulus money would protect the system from more financial pain.
The students impressed Crist and Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp with their command of issues and their grasp of Tallahassee politics. Florida State's Laymon Hicks talked of students passing the hat on campus, hoping to raise $100,000 for a bonus program for teachers called "POP," for Protect our Professors. Sean Terwilliger of Florida Gulf Coast University called college students "the ultimate stimulus" for Florida's future.
Crist promised the leaders he would sign a budget that would "adequately and appropriately" support the higher-ed system. Crist was asked what he would do if lawmakers send him a budget that makes further cuts to the universities. "I would discourage that," Crist said.
"We both graduated from Florida State. Don't hold that against us," Crist told the student body leaders. Kottkamp added: "We couldn't get in now, probably." "I know I couldn't," Crist added.