Florida Gov. Charlie Crist has finalized $1.1 billion in state budget cuts — but he did so grudgingly and without fanfare.
Crist on Friday signed the budget-revision bills sent to him two weeks ago by the Legislature. They enact tuition increases at public universities and colleges and a new technology fee at universities.
“Though fully aware of the state’s revenue projections and the need to reduce expenditures, I have specific concerns with some of the reductions,” Crist said in a letter accompanying the bills. “I want all concerned parties to understand that piecemeal approaches to our higher education system are unacceptable to me.”
Lagging home sales and a sagging economy forced lawmakers into a special session earlier this month to deal with a $1.1 billion budget shortfall in the state’s $71 billion plan.
Crist reversed his earlier position, signing a bill that allows state universities and community colleges to raise tuition by 5 percent beginning in January.
The governor had vetoed a similar increase in the spring but said he did not attempt to veto this time, because he said he thinks residents are being provided with other financial relief. He also said that he expects at least 30 percent of the tuition increase to be used for financial aid.
The increase will amount to a $55 boost for university students taking 15 credit hours in the spring semester and about $29 for community-college students taking 12 credit hours.
The bill will also let universities impose a technology fee up to 5 percent of the tuition beginning in fall 2009.
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