Gov. Rick Scott spoke to reporters this afternoon about his decision to cut $368 million out of the $74.5 billion budget sent to him by the Florida Legislature.
One of the items he cut would have boosted tuition at state colleges and universities by 3 percent.
“In my case and my wife’s case, we didn’t have parents that could pay for higher education. So the cost of tuition was very significant to us,” Scott said. “I am absolutely committed to keeping tuition low.”
“This is not a political decision. This is a decision for Florida families,” Scott said. “Tuition cannot continue to go up the way it’s been going up.”
Scott said his “filter” in determining whether to veto each item came down to three questions:
Does it help families get more jobs?
Does it improve the state’s education system?
Does it make government more efficient in order to keep the cost of living low?
Scott said he’s asked university and college presidents to think about how they can make sure students get degrees that will result in jobs.
“When they finish, do they have a job? Could they afford their education? How much debt are they going to have? We cannot put our students in a position where they can’t afford higher education,” Scott said.
There’s been a question about whether Scott’s tuition veto is constitutional because it’s not an actual line item. He has to change the budget language that sets student tuition per credit hour.
But Scott said he’ll fight any legal challenge to the veto.
He also rejected $14 million for a STEM building at Gulf Coast State College in Panama City – in Senate President Don Gaetz’ district.The project was on Florida Taxwatch’s annual list of “budget turkeys” recommended for vetoes because it was not properly vetted before being thrown into the budget.
More comments from Gov. Scott during his budget announcement:
- “We were able to put more money into the budget this year for the second year in a row in K-12 education – over a billion dollars two years in a row. This year included $480 million for teacher pay raises.”
- “According to Education Week, we’re number 6 in the country in education. Our 4th graders are number two in the world in reading. Our 4th and 8th graders are making better student achievement gains than any other large state.”
- “Our teachers are great. According to the National Council for Teacher Quality, we have the most effective teachers in the country.”