Florida Governor Rick Scott vetoed a higher education bill Wednesday that included a permanent increase in Bright Futures, stating that the bill would “impede” the progress made at state (community) colleges by boosting universities at the expense of these local colleges.
In this bill, a permanent boost to the Bright Futures scholarship program outlined coverage of 100% of tuition and fees for Bright Futures Academic Scholars students over the Fall, Spring, and Summer semesters, with an additional $300 stipend per semester to cover the cost of textbooks.
The Academic Scholars, although, will still receive this increase in awards for the 2017-18 year as the money has been earmarked in the already-approved state budget.
Governor Scott, who began his college career at a community college, defended these institutions from the bill with the hope that state lawmakers would make the Bright Futures awards increase permanent while also recognizing “the importance of both our state colleges and universities.”
According to Scott, community colleges play an important role in the state’s education and economic development efforts, and the proposed bill limited the State of Florida’s ability to offer bachelor’s degrees, the Orlando Sentinel gathered from the veto.
“Students and families deserve certainty when making these important decisions, and today’s veto makes advance planning much more difficult,” Senate President Joe Negron said.
The bill targeted affordable education at state universities by providing increased need-based financial aid and Bright Futures Scholarships, encouraging institutions to take aim at higher four-year graduation rates while also recruiting more distinguished faculty.