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SCOFLA Takes Up Tuition Authority Fight

The Florida Supreme Court took up a long-running lawsuit Thursday over whether the legislature or the university governing board has the right to set tuition.The Florida Board of Governors was once a party to the lawsuit but withdrew after striking a deal with the legislature to share tuition-setting authority. But the lawsuit continued. It was filed by former Governor Bob Graham and others who say the board should have that authority.

But during Supreme Court arguments Thursday Justice Peggy Quince said, “it seems to me that you are asking for something that could come back to bite you.”

Quince says if the tuition authority rested with the board, there would be nothing to stop the legislature from reducing its support even more than it already has. And other justices, like Barbara Pariente seemed skeptical of the argument that the Board of Governor's should have that authority.

“The power to set tuition and fees and collect those and decide how they’re expended, the judicial branch, which is a co-equal branch of government, has no control over that. That’s legislative.”  

Two lower courts have upheld the legislature as the tuition authority in previous judgments. The Supreme Court did not say when it would issue a ruling.

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Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas.  She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. 

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