Senate gets the drop on tuition

The Florida Student Association notched a major victory in Tallahassee on Tuesday when the Florida House of Representatives agreed to uphold the Senate’s proposal for a smaller tuition increase.

The Senate and House met in a joint meeting after both sides made proposals. The House opted for 7.5 percent while the Senate opted for 5 percent. After a two-day discussion process, the joint committee selected the 5 percent proposal.

Mike Fischer, the newly elected representative to the FSA, lobbied with the state Senate to decrease the proposed tuition hike.

“I couldn’t be happier that the committee selected the proposal,” Fischer said. “In a climate where tuition increases range from 7 to 13.5 percent, it shows that the Florida Legislature still considers higher education a priority.”

The original proposal matched the governor’s budget from last year calling for a 7.5 percent raise. In 2003, the budget increase was proposed at 12.5 percent.

“(Fischer) has done an excellent job lobbying in Tallahassee and I feel confident in the work that he is doing,” student body President Maxon Victor said. “It gives us peace of mind to know that someone is working hard for the students. He is working for thousands of students across the state. It’s a blessing.”

The final decision from the Legislative branch, barring any extensions, won’t be made until May 6; after that the decision to approve the $63 billion budget is up to Gov. Jeb Bush. At that point the governor has 10 days to approve the budget proposal.

With the Senate and the House both approving the smaller increase, there is a good chance it will pass with the entire budget. Amendments and changes to the budget can be made prior to May 6, but given that both sides agree on the issue, that may seem unlikely.

“I think this means that, due to hard work and dedication by making our presence known in Tallahassee with the legislators, they will listen to you. If we just complain and take no action, things will not get done,” said former student body President Bijal Chhadva. “It is important that we take the steps to work toward letting our representatives know what we think. They are accountable to the citizens of Florida.”

With many topics buzzing around the state Legislature, including block tuition, decreasing the tuition hike gives some students a ray of hope in regards to paying for college.

“I think it’s great that they’re taking the time out to work for the students,” senior Ramon Gonzalez said. “When it is more affordable, more people can go. And if they can avoid more debt by paying less tuition, they can look at it as a positive.”