College Budgets Off the Chopping Block - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

College Budgets Off the Chopping Block

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Panama City, Fla. -

Leaders of Florida's 12 public universities will have more to work with this year. The house and senate are proposing a bill that boosts university funding by over a million dollars. It's the first increase for the system in years.

The budgets of Florida's 12 public universities have been on the chopping block. While budgets declined and tuition increased, leaders had to find a way to maintain the quality of education.

Florida State's Board of Trustees Chairman said, "We're a tier 1 university, Florida is a tier one university, but if we want to maintain that status, you have to retain and hire the best faculty you have."

This year the house and senate are considering increases for all state schools, but the exact figures are unclear. The senate's budget gives $15 million to the University of Florida and Florida State, while the house's version gives $12.5 million to FSU and $30 million to UF.

"I applaud the legislature for putting money back into education. I think it's smart," Bense said.

Also in the mix are tuition hikes. Republican Speaker Will Weatherford is pushing for a 6% increase, a modest but unpopular one among students prior. However, Bense says now is the time to level the playing field. Florida's tuition rate is the 48th lowest of the 50 states.

"I don't disagree that tuition hikes hurt the working man, the working woman and their children to go to school. I get that, I understand that. But still, from a big picture perspective you got to pay to play. I don't like it, can't stand it but I would not be surprised to see another tuition hike this year."

Governor Rick Scott says he adamantly opposes such increases and could veto any bill the legislature passes.