Florida's Rick Scott Slams Crist Tuition Hikes in New Ad

Sunday, 08 Jun 2014 09:32 AM

By Elliot Jager

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A campaign commercial by Republican Gov. Rick Scott asserting that former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist — a Republican turned independent turned Democrat — allowed college tuition to increase up to 15 percent every year has been determined to be "mostly true" according to the Miami Herald.

Scott's statewide campaign ad asserted: "Charlie Crist allowed college tuition to increase up to 15 percent every year." The commercial says Scott rescinded the increase.

Crist took office in 2007. That year he opposed hiking tuition and vetoed a 5 percent increase. Later in the year, he changed his mind and allowed the 5 percent increase to take effect, an examination by the Herald found.

The next year, Florida's legislature allowed universities to increase fees by at least 6 percent with Crist going along.

In 2009, the legislature gave the university's Board of Governors flexibility to raise undergraduate tuition beyond what the lawmakers had approved, so long as the total increase was not above 15 percent a year. Crist went along with this plan too.

The reason the tuition increases were necessary was to pay for scholarships and keep the university competitive in recruiting teaching talent. At number 45, the state was ranked among the lowest nationwide in tuition costs in 2011.

In assessing the validity of Scott's ad, the Herald noted that both the legislature and the Board of Governors played a role in hiking tuition. The lawmakers set the base increase, with the board weighing whether to authorize individual universities to raise tuition.

The governor had the power to veto the legislature's increase. He could not override the decision of the board. However, he appointed members of the board and could try to sway them.

For example, Scott vetoed a 2013 increase and pressed the board to keep a lid on tuition rises.

Scott's add plays down the fact that tuition went up 15 percent one year in his tenure and that the process of raising tuition involves lawmakers and the university's Board of Governors as well as the governor.

"Still, tuition did go up each year (for Crist), and as high as 15 percent for two years. We rate the statement 'mostly true,'" the Herald concludes.

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