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Scott: Tuition hike a tax hike 'that must be stopped'

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Updated: 5/25/2013 9:17 am
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (PBP) -- Gov. Rick Scott underscored his veto this week of a 3 percent tuition hike by sending letters Friday to administrators at the state’s 12 public universities, calling a tuition hike, “a tax increase on our families that must be stopped.”

With assurances already in hand from most schools that they won’t seek an increase from the State University System’s Board of Governors, Scott’s letter is aimed chiefly at blunting an automatic, 1.7 percent cost-of-living boost.

The provision was included in state law to help schools meet rising costs, even when no tuition hike is approved.

But Scott appears intent on getting schools to refuse the inflation dollars.

“As with many matters that come before us, I know there are several legal opinions concerning who would implement a tuition increase and how they would go about doing it,” Scott said in his letter.

“Again, we are committed to fighting against any tuition increase in Florida,” he added. “We should be proud that our state offers affordable tuition and a high quality education, just as we are proud to have no state income tax.”

Running for re-election next year, Scott could have the distinction of being the first governor in almost two decades to halt Florida’s tuition rise. It appears Scott and his advisers see the cost-of-living provision as a potential asterisk on an otherwise potent political claim – one aimed directly at a possible rival.

Scott’s predecessor, former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist, is now a Democrat who many expect to seek that party’s nomination for governor next year.

Under Crist, lawmakers and business leaders across Florida had pushed through legislation giving universities more authority to raise tuition. Crist joined with the Florida Chamber of Commerce, Council of 100 and others in promoting tuition hikes as a means of plowing more dollars into universities.
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