Scott Signs Polytech Independence Bill

By: Brandon Larrabee, The News Service of Florida Email
By: Brandon Larrabee, The News Service of Florida Email

Tallahassee, FL --- April 21, 2012

Florida Polytechnic University will become Florida's 12th state university in July after Gov. Rick Scott signed a contentious bill accelerating independence for the University of South Florida's Lakeland campus.

The new university was a final victory for Senate Budget Chairman JD Alexander, R-Lake Wales, who had crusaded for the school for months and repeatedly clashed with USF leaders over the future of the campus. Alexander is leaving the Legislature because of term limits.

In a lengthy letter explaining his decision to sign the bill (SB 1994), Scott systematically knocked down objections that even he had raised in publicly weighing the measure's fate.

Critics have said it will take longer for an independent university to gain accreditation and will cost too much at a time when the state is cutting funding for other institutions of higher education.

But Scott wrote that the new university will simply receive the funding that would have gone to the current USF campus and that the school was required to reach certain benchmarks toward accreditation by 2016. The campus would have had to reach those benchmarks first to become independent under a plan approved late last year by the Board of Governors.

Supporters have cast Florida Polytechnic University as an attempt to shore up the state's efforts to boost degrees in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

"At a time when the number of graduates of Florida's universities in the STEM fields is not projected to meet workforce needs, the establishment of Florida Polytechnic University will help us move the needle in the right direction," Scott wrote. " ... Failing to meet this challenge will be cost to our state for decades."

Officials who had backed the initial plan for the university reacted coolly to the announcement.

"While the Board of Governors suggested one path leading to the creation of a new Polytech, an alternative path was chosen by our elected officials and we respect that decision," said board Chairman Dean Colson in a statement issued following the announcement. "The Board takes its constitutional duties for oversight seriously and will work hard to ensure that Polytech is a success."

The Florida Democratic Party slammed the proposal as "JD Polytechnic University" in a written statement.

"This move is nothing more than an appalling and wasteful power play by the Republicans in Tallahassee," party spokeswoman Brannon Jordan said. "The people of Florida didn't ask for this university, they don't need it and can't afford it."

But only one Democratic senator voted against the final version of the proposal -- Sen. Arthenia Joyner of Tampa, who had supported the first draft of the measure. In the House, 27 Democrats voted against the final bill.

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  • by roger on Apr 22, 2012 at 06:05 AM
    I guess there is enough money for new president, deans, etc but not for students....
  • by Anonymous Location: Tallahassee on Apr 22, 2012 at 04:49 AM
    All they did is allow an already existing campus run itself. Seems like they were doing a good job already and just cut out the middle man. Stop complaining and let it flourish.
  • by Bubba on Apr 21, 2012 at 06:22 PM
    Scott sold us out again.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Apr 21, 2012 at 07:33 PM in reply to Bubba
      Scott didn't go this. The legislature did.
      • reply
        by Emily on Apr 21, 2012 at 08:31 PM in reply to
        Governor Scott could have easily vetoed this turkey. He chose not to.
      • reply
        by Because on Apr 22, 2012 at 03:47 AM in reply to
        Scott signed the bill into law so he owns it.
        • reply
          by GV on Apr 23, 2012 at 05:00 AM in reply to Because
          Then why do you refer to the "obama tax cuts" as the "Bush tax cuts"?
        • reply
          by Anonymous on Apr 23, 2012 at 06:13 AM in reply to Because
          @GV The Bush tax cuts originated in 2001-2003, while Bush was President. The tax cuts were written to expire at the end of 2010. 40 Republican Senators were enough to filibuster Obama's efforts to allow the tax cuts to expire on those making more than $250,000 or alternatively, $1 million, at the end of 2010.
        • reply
          by GV on Apr 23, 2012 at 07:43 AM in reply to Because
          @Anonymous,obama signed the bill in 2010,stupid.That makes it the obama tax cuts,not the bush tax cuts,stupid.
        • reply
          by Anonymous on Apr 23, 2012 at 08:40 AM in reply to Because
          @GV You're being disingenuous and are trying to obscure the origins of Bush's tax cuts for the rich. It's like 5 years ago calling Social Security Bush's Social Security even though he wanted to privatize it, because it kept on chugging along during his term.
        • reply
          by GV on Apr 23, 2012 at 10:08 AM in reply to Because
          No stupid,I'm saying that obama could have stopped them if he wanted to.They are his.He owns it,just as Scott owns this one.Social security wasn't set to expire five years ago.The Bush tax cuts were set to expire,obama continued them so they are his.
      • reply
        by Anonymous on Apr 22, 2012 at 05:36 AM in reply to
        The headline seems to imply Scott signed it and therefore approved it and could have vetoed it. Isn't that true?
        • reply
          by Anonymous on Apr 22, 2012 at 12:02 PM in reply to
          You all give Scott way too much credit.
        • reply
          by Anonymous on Apr 22, 2012 at 12:04 PM in reply to
          Scott signed it, but it may be that he did not disapprove it. There are a lot of things that the legislature does that the Gov. (any one of them) don't really approve of, but they sign it anyway.
        • reply
          by Anonymous on Apr 22, 2012 at 03:37 PM in reply to
          @Anonymous Your post is an absurd apology for Scott. He wrote a letter countering objections he had made himself. You'd like Scott to get credit for opposing, and then flip flopping and favoring the same measure. You've twisted yourself into a pretzel and it seems you have written "disapprove" when you mean "approve." You don't know what you think. Just like Rick Scott.
      • reply
        by the emperor has no clothes on Apr 22, 2012 at 05:33 PM in reply to
        He signed it into law, just like he signed into law HB5005, cutting contributions to the investment plan he wants everyone to go to.
  • by Judd on Apr 21, 2012 at 04:17 PM
    Follow the money...
  • by Somebody on Apr 21, 2012 at 03:19 PM
    Hey Senate Democrats if you were against it, why did you vote for it, duh.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Apr 22, 2012 at 06:09 AM in reply to Somebody
      I read the words but don't understand. Why would Senate Dems be unwilling to oppose the Budget Committee chairman? Hmmm. The Budget Committee is a standing committee and has 7 subcommittees, 6 of which have "appropriations" in their title. It might have to do with appropriations. Possibly appropriations in their individual districts. APPROPRIATIONS. Hmmm. "Appropriations" means "spending."No, I don't understand. The Senate Appropriations Committee chairman presumably has limited power in the House and 27/39, more than 2/3, of House Dems opposed him. Hmmm. In any event, each chamber is 2/3 Republican and Dem votes are not necessary to pass anything. In fact, about one quarter of R's can defect to the D's and there are still enough R votes remaining to pass anything the majority of R's likes.
  • by Anonymous on Apr 21, 2012 at 02:39 PM
    There is no public university in Florida whose degree is as valuable as the University of North Carolina's. There is no private university in Florida whose degree is as valuable as Duke University's. There is no technical university in Florida whose degree is as valuable as Georgia Tech's. These statements have been true for the last 50 years and will be true for the next 50 years. In order to improve the public universities in Florida, we should cut overall university funding while simultaneously opening twenty, fifty or a thousand new universities. Duh. That's my plan to achieve the excellence we all talk the talk about. Oh, and cut taxes on businesses. And open more private prisons. That should do it. Thank you very much.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Apr 21, 2012 at 07:32 PM in reply to
      There will always be a school at the top. Florida's schools may not be number one, but there is only one number one.
      • reply
        by Anonymous on Apr 22, 2012 at 07:37 AM in reply to
        No school in Florida should aspire to be #1, because that is utterly unrealistic. The Noles, Canes, and Fightin Gators should aspire to be #25. That's realistic. I can name, without breaking a sweat, 25 schools both public and private which offer more prestigious degrees than any school in Florida. Can't everybody? Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Cornell, Michigan, Virginia, California, Texas, Chicago, Northwestern, Rice, Vanderbilt, etc. I'm a little surprised the alumni of the Florida schools are indifferent to their academic reputations. The alumni seem only concerned with the dates of spring practice and what time the party starts. If your child or grandchild has anything whatsoever on the ball, you owe it to him or her to educate them out of state. Your school's reputation follows you through life and can be an albatross.
  • by Emily Location: Gadsden on Apr 21, 2012 at 02:13 PM
    The other 11 universities are struggling under the weight of budget cuts, but the taxpayers of Florida can afford a 12th university? Surely this could not have anything to do with its being Alexander's swan song pet project? I hope not, because that would mean politics won out over fiscal prudence, which is antithetical to what Governor Scott purports his administration is all about.
    • reply
      by Anon on Apr 21, 2012 at 07:36 PM in reply to Emily
      Yep. Exactly right.
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