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News Clips 02/01/2013
BLOG: Court affirms authority of legislature to set tuition rates, rejects Graham's challenge
Source: Tampa Bay Times, 01/31/13
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By Mary Ellen Klas
Florida Supreme Court on Thursday affirmed the authority of the state legislature to set university tuition and fees, rejecting an appeal by former Gov. Bob Graham and other advocates who contended that the power resides in the board that oversees the schools.
In an opinion written by Justice Barbara Pariente, with the remaining six justices concurring, the court said that the 2002 constitutional amendment creating the Board of Governors did not transfer authority over tuition and fees to the board.
The court upheld a lower court ruling and concluded "that the constitutional source of the Legislature's control over the setting of an appropriations for the expenditure of tuition and fees" comes from the state Constitution.
Two lower courts ruled that power lies with the Legislature but Graham, a Democrat and former U.S. senator, led other plaintiffs challenge that ruling.
The 2002 constitutional amendment established the Board of Governors and allowed the governor to appoint 14 of the board's 17 members. The state education commissioner and leaders of faculty and student associations appoint the remaining three seats.
Graham, a Democrat and former U.S. senator, led a petition campaign that put the amendment on the ballot with the aim of taking politics out of the State University System. Graham's initiative was prompted by a decision by the Republican-led Legislature to abolish an earlier board that opposed lawmakers' pet projects such as new law and medical schools. The amendment won approval from nearly 62 percent of voters.