Gov. Rick Scott has received the budget bill that allows for USF Polytechnic to become the independent Florida Polytechnic University, and has until Saturday to make a decision.
The creation of Florida Polytechnic University is economically unviable and unpopular beyond Polk County figures such as Sen. JD Alexander, R-Lake Wales, who has long rallied for an independent Polytechnic and lobbied Scott on Thursday. If Scott wants to live up to his idea of being a businessman and outsider politician, he should veto the Polytechnic split.
While Scott is a proponent of increasing science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) opportunities something Florida Polytechnic would supposedly focus on programs mean nothing with the campuss current lack of students, classrooms and accreditation.
It would also take away money from some of the most lucrative STEM schools in the State University System, such as USF and the University of Florida. In a budget where Floridas state universities are facing a $300 million cut, according to the Tampa Bay Times, creating a new campus is a completely inadvisable financial plan.
Scott claims he has been focused on keeping taxes low he is a businessman, after all. At the moment, it does not benefit anyone to pour money into a project that will take years to show results and, even then, may not prosper.
This could be Scotts shining moment with the Florida populace, something that would be in his benefit when he is up for re-election in two years. Scott could use all the help he can get, at one point having the lowest approval rating of any governor in the country and alienating the academic crowd when he said Florida could use less humanities majors in October.
In 2010, former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist vetoed a bill that would have placed harsher restrictions on teachers, making them more responsible for test scores, punishing them for not keeping up and threatening job security. His decision was regarded with much acclaim, and a similar move could benefit Scott as well.
This could also be Scotts chance to stand up to political bullies such Alexander, who pushed the budget bill in his own interest. Recently, Alexander told Scott that hes not sure the state can afford not to build this university, according to the Times. Yet in all reality, it would be better for the state to invest in their existing universities and therefore invest in students, faculty and future jobs.
Scott also has the opportunity this week to sign or veto the bill that would allow for tuition raises at UF and Florida State University. After saying that he doesnt believe in tuition raises, he has another opportunity to stay true to his word.
Overall, Scott has the opportunity to flex his political muscles this week, and it is about time. The governor should start by not letting Florida Polytechnic University be created.