Gov. Charlie Crist met with student university leaders last week to discuss proposed budgets to the state’s 11 public universities.
Among the university leaders were representatives from the University of Florida, New College of Florida, and Florida A&M University.
“It was a good discussion,” said FAMU Student Body President Andrew Collins. “There wasn’t anything that we didn’t speak about. Governor Crist definitely has higher education at the top of his list of priorities. I applaud him for that.”
According to a press release, Crist said he tried to make higher education a priority. His proposed budget includes $6 billion for higher education, to support career education, undergraduate and graduate education, and research and development.
Collins said the meeting was needed in order to connect with the governor and voice the students’ opinions.
“It was very informative,” Collins said. “It gave myself and the other student leaders across the state the opportunity to convey all of the institutions frustrations to the Governor and the Lieutenant Governor, Jeff Kottkamp.”
Crist is also proposing a series of tuition and governance reforms aimed at strengthening the 11 state universities’ degree programs. Under the proposal, the Boards of Trustees would have the option to establish, with Board of Governors’ approval, the differential tuition program, which allows a university to change the base rate charged to in-state undergraduates. The differential cannot exceed 15 percent each year.
The Legislature has been in session since March 3. Currently, a five percent pay cut for state employees has been considered in the House and Senate so far. However, Crist does not support the cut that could affect teachers and professors.