TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/AP) – Governor Rick Scott is asking legislators to pass a sweeping bill which would lower textbook costs and curb tuition increases for graduate programs.
During his campaign for re-election, Scott promised to keep costs of college down during his second term.
Scott's proposal is expected to be his top priority during the upcoming session that starts in March.
The draft, which was obtained by The Associated Press, includes the Republican governor's push to permanently exempt college textbooks from sales taxes.
Scott also wants to prevent universities from raising the tuition of graduate programs, including law schools and medical schools, beyond the rate that will be in place July 1.
"We have to keep higher education affordable for our students - and while we have made considerable steps to curb the rising cost of undergraduate tuition - it must be a priority to hold the line on graduate school tuition this year," Scott said in a statement. "I look forward to working with the Legislature this session to pass our college affordability package which will make the dream of a higher education a reality for more of our students."
The governor's proposal could put him at odds with university leaders who have argued that graduate programs reflect market demand, especially since those degrees are viewed as a way for students to earn higher-paying jobs.
Scott's proposal also calls for enacting a requirement that colleges must use the same textbook in undergraduate courses for a minimum of three years. Additionally, the governor wants colleges to tell students prior to registration how much their textbooks cost. He also wants college and university boards to give public notice for any meeting prior with a vote to raise college fees.
During his first term, Scott pushed to limit undergraduate tuition hikes at the state's universities even though Florida tuition is regarded as low compared to many other states. Last year, Scott signed a bill into law that restricts state universities from being able to raise tuition above the rate set each year by legislators.
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