Florida’s community and state colleges say state lawmakers have their attention after proposals to stop the schools from creating new degree programs ended up in the Senate’s budget plan. The schools are now talking with lawmakers and the two sides have formed a sort of truce--for now.
There are about 175 baccalaureate degree programs offered at Florida’s community and state colleges. The state board of education, which oversees the schools, has never rejected a proposal for a new one. But Republican Senators Bill Galvano of Bradenton and Joe Negron of Stuart wanted to put that control back in the hands of the Legislature. They worry the schools are creating programs outside local workforce needs and encroaching on existing university programs. Galvano notes a one-year moratorium on new programs is in place.
“Essentially [it] puts a pause in place until May of next year and gives us an opportunity to act. If we don’t act, it goes back to business as usual. But it will at least give us that opportunity and won’t be an indefinite suspension," Galvano said in explaining the deal reached with the community and state colleges.
Negron had also proposed holding back about $3.5 million of a proposed $35 million increase for the colleges because of the issue, but that's been reversed. Lawmakers say they plan to study community and state college degree programs and extend that review to universities to see which programs are working and which ones aren’t.