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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Which do you want first, the good news or the bad?

The good news, which you may have read about in Wednesday's Alligator, is that Florida's public universities may soon be able to charge a technology fee - an additional source of revenue we desperately need.

The bad news, which you can read about in today's Alligator, is that the Florida Legislature may vote to increase tuition every year to match inflation.

"But wait," you ask, "why is that bad?"

We'll admit, when we first heard the bill, we thought it sounded good, too. Then we realized this could actually mean less money for our universities and community colleges.

Inflation usually doesn't rise very quickly. In 2006 it only increased by 2.6 percent.

Had this tuition increase been implemented 20 years ago, tuition would have risen by about 77 percent, according to a report from The Miami Herald. In reality, the Legislature has approved about 214 percent in tuition increases.

Of course, if this bill were approved, the Legislature argues that it could always vote for additional increases - but there's no guarantee of that. We fear legislators may use the inflation increase as a cop-out for future increases.

It may also be a way for the Legislature to get the Board of Governors off its back. The board, the State University System's highest governing body, and former Sen. Bob Graham are battling the Legislature in a lawsuit for the right to control tuition. Could this just be appeasement? We sure hope not - look where that got then-British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain in the 1930s.

Now that we've established that linking tuition increases to inflation is bad and the proposed technology fee is good, we face the bigger problem. The two are part of the same bill that is working its way through the Florida government. The State Senate and House of Representatives are expected to vote on it Friday. Hopefully our legislators will realize what is best for our universities. In with the good, but out with the bad.

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