Business leaders lobby for tiered tuition plan

Published May 12, 2007

TALLAHASSEE - Some of Florida's most influential business leaders have urged Gov. Charlie Crist to sign legislation that would allow three of Florida's universities to charge higher tuition than the other eight schools.

Crist, who has been leaning toward a veto, said Friday that Florida Council of 100 members tried to persuade him to approve the tuition differential, which applies to Florida State University, the University of Florida and the University of South Florida.

It initially would add several hundred dollars a year to the tuition for incoming freshmen and could eventually add more than $1, 300 a year.

The council, formed in 1961 to advise governors on key issues from a business perspective, is part of a larger lobbying effort by the three universities.

"You have no idea how intense it has become, " Crist said.

University officials say Florida's in-state tuition is among the nation's lowest and that they need more money to improve instruction and research.

Crist said he has not yet made a decision but is inclined to veto the bill (SB 1710) in keeping with a prior request to the Legislature for no tuition increases this year.

Lawmakers, though, included a 5 percent increase for all universities and community colleges in the annual budget, also awaiting action by Crist.