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Legislative lovefest on state university spending

Negron and Corcoran compare priorities for 2018 session <br>
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Published Jan. 25, 2018
Updated Jan. 25, 2018

Despite early differences in spending at state universities, legislative leaders said Thursday they share common goals in improving the system.

Senate President Joe Negron and House Speaker Richard Corcoran spoke at a meeting in Tallahassee of the Board of Governors that oversees Florida’s 12 state universities, then praised each other in speaking with reporters afterward.

Negron’s vision of “national elite destination universities” remains atop his agenda, while Corcoran’s emphasis has been expanding school choice and charter schools in the K-12 system.

A House budget panel this week proposed an “austere” university system budget that reduces spending by $217 million and drops an expansion of the Bright Futures merit-scholarship program to cover 75 percent of tuition and fees for “medallion scholars,” a Senate priority.

Corcoran downplayed that incremental step in Week 3 of the nine-week session. He said of Negron: “We fully support the direction and the vision that he’s laid out for higher education, and we just have to work through the numbers and get it done.”

Negron was full of praise for Corcoran and said he’s not worried about the proposed House cuts to universities. "We're early in the budget process," Negron said. “The differences between the House and Senate are very manageable.”

Corcoran and Negron had a string of policy differences last session, but legislative horse-trading and intervention by Gov. Rick Scott helped the two Republicans work things out. More horse-trading lies ahead. Negron has more plans for universities and Corcoran has a series of ideological policy changes he wants the Senate to take up this session.