Legislation that would raise community college and state-university tuition by 5 percent in January also includes automatic increases in future years tied to inflation, as well as a technology fee for universities.
The tuition provisions are part of a budget-cutting package distributed to lawmakers Tuesday, after conference committees and appropriations leaders settled differences between the two chambers.
The House and Senate each included the January increase in a package of spending cuts affecting nearly all parts of the state’s annual budget to offset a $1.1 billion shortfall in tax revenue.
Negotiators from the two chambers then agreed to accept the Senate’s technology fee and the House’s inflation escalator. Lawmakers will vote on the budget-cutting package Friday, after a required 72-hour cooling-off period.
Linking tuition to increases in the Consumer Price Index will give universities and community colleges predictability instead of having to wait for the Legislature to make a decision every year, said House Policy and Budget Chairman Ray Sansom, R-Destin.
“It doesn’t make it where it’s, ‘Do we or don’t we?’ until the end of the session,” Sansom said. “It’s automatically there.”
It might not be there, though, if Gov. Charlie Crist (R) exercises his veto again. Crist removed the 5 percent increase from the $71 billion budget before he signed it in May.
The governor hasn’t yet made a decision and continues to keep an open mind on the tuition issue, Crist spokeswoman Erin Isaac said.
The technology fee — up to 5 percent of tuition to pay for computers and other instructional-technology resources — would not go into effect until 2009-10. Boards of trustees at each of the 11 universities would decide whether to charge the fee and how much it should be.
University officials say Florida’s tuition is the nation’s lowest and that without additional money, quality will suffer.
The Florida Student Association, which represents state-university students, has endorsed the 5 percent tuition increase and the technology fee.
by Associated Press
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