Florida Gov. Rick Scott Warns Universities He Will Fight Tuition Hikes

The governor urged university boards to join him in keeping tuition rates flat.

By Gary Fineout
|  Friday, May 24, 2013  |  Updated 4:51 PM EDT
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Florida Gov. Rick Scott is strongly warning universities that he will fight against any tuition hikes this year.

Scott made the warning in a letter sent out Friday to the heads of the boards that oversee the state's 12 public universities. He urged university boards to join him in a "worthy battle" to keep tuition rates flat.

"I want to be clear on this: we absolutely will fight to hold the line on tuition in Florida," Scott writes. "This would be a tax increase on our families that must be stopped. We don't want a three percent increase or even a one percent increase in tuition on our students."

The letter could be seen as a prelude to a legal challenge.

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The governor on Monday vetoed a 3 percent hike for the state's universities and colleges included in this year's budget.

But tuition could still go up for those students who attend state universities.

That's because university boards have the power to raise tuition as much as 15 percent a year regardless of legislative action. So far it appears unlikely that university boards would go along with that large of an increase.

A separate law, however, mandates that tuition goes up automatically by the rate of inflation is there is no increase in the budget. That means that tuition could still go up 1.7 percent this fall.

That law, however, is silent on what happens if the governor vetoes the hike. The Scott administration maintained earlier this week that the law is vague.

There have been ongoing discussions among lawyers involving the Legislature, the governor's office and the state university system about how to interpret the law.

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