Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Scott, university leaders struggle over university funding puzzle

SARASOTA — A college degree is an investment, and the state's public universities need to show that they are providing good returns for both their students and Florida taxpayers, Gov. Rick Scott told members of the state Board of Governors on Tuesday.

Scott also made clear that he opposes increasing tuition rates, despite concerns from some that the state university system is underfunded.

"I don't believe we ought to be raising tuition," Scott said. "I'm still concerned about the cost of higher education."

University leaders argue the state has left schools little choice. As schools are being challenged to increase student achievement, they're also being asked to absorb state budget reductions.

Florida State University president Eric Barron said the national profile of his school suffered after it was forced to cut 200 faculty positions to balance its budget in 2010. While Florida State is looking for ways to reduce costs, more tax dollars would help, he said.

"My hope is that as we begin to find efficiencies and reinvest, hopefully the state also sees a reason to give us a little bit of (general revenue) and let us hold our tuition down," Barron said.

After vetoing tuition increases earlier this year, Scott created a task force to identify ways to improve the higher education system.

The group has since recommended that lawmakers either give universities the additional money to reach their achievement goals and missions, or grant them flexibility to find the revenue elsewhere, including through tuition increases.

Last week, Scott criticized the proposal, telling state community college leaders he would oppose "a blind call for more money" from the panel. On Tuesday, he said he would be open-minded to what the group had to say, to a degree.

"I'm glad that we're having all these conversations," Scott said. "I look forward to reading the report. … But I can tell you, I'm concerned about tuition."

Dale Brill, president of the Florida Chamber of Commerce Foundation and chairman of the task force, said the group is merely asking lawmakers to give universities enough money to meet the expectations placed upon them. That money should be tied to performance measures, Brill said.

"Increase tuition only as a backstop," he said.

The group also is recommending that schools be allowed to charge a different tuition for courses in majors tied to "high-skill, high-wage and high-demand jobs." Members also suggest that the state give universities additional funding to offset the impact for Florida residents in the early years.

The decision to tie new funding to performance goals is a place where Scott and the board found common ground.

State universities said they expect the Legislature to restore $300 million in cuts that were supposed to be a one-time reduction last year. But schools are also asking for $118 million in new money, which theoretically will be tied to universities' performance.

Scott had some ideas about what the state should measure: the percentage of graduates who get a job or continue their education, how much they earn in the workforce, and the cost of their degrees. Board members suggested the state also measure graduation and retention rates.

Scott said he was open to their input.

"I'd like to get your ideas on how much we need for higher ed," he said. "How do we get a result? How should we measure? How should we allocate it?"

Scott, university leaders struggle over university funding puzzle 11/07/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 7, 2012 10:53pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Senate ponders health care bill it doesn't want to be law


    Buoyed by a signal from House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell introduced a pared-down health care bill late Thursday that he hoped would keep alive Republican ambitions to repeal Obamacare.

    Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., left, and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., expressed concerns about passing the “skinny repeal” of Obamacare without assurances of further negotiations.
  2. Arrest made in shooting death of 19-year-old found in lot


    A 20-year-old Tampa man was arrested Thursday night for the shooting death of a 19-year-old whose body was discovered in a vacant lot on Tuesday.

  3. Rays fall to Yankees in 11 on Brett Gardner homer (w/ video)

    The Heater

    NEW YORK — The front office did its part Thursday, making two trades to bolster the roster in a push for the playoffs. But the Rays didn't follow up in a frustrating 6-5 11-inning loss to the Yankees.

    Rays reliever Andrew Kittredge stands on the mound and can only watch as the Yankees’ Brett Gardner starts to circle the bases after his walkoff home run leading off the 11th inning.
  4. Believe it! Rays are buyers, trade for reliever Dan Jennings and 1B/DH Lucas Duda

    The Heater

    NEW YORK — Dan Jennings' ability to render lefty hitters useless with a sinker that gets beaten into the ground and Lucas Duda's power to blast baseballs off and over outfield walls should make the Rays better.

    Lucas Duda
  5. Bucs' direction is decidedly up for first time in several years


    TAMPA — If you want to see a team give the Heisman Trophy stiff-arm to expectations, check out the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

    Tight end O.J. Howard, left, the Bucs’ first-round draft pick this year, was brought in to give QB Jameis Winston another big-play option.