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Senator Bob Graham and FDP Chair Rod Smith Join Florida Students to Condemn GOP's Assault on Higher Education

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Tallahassee, FL — Florida college and university students joined Senator Bob Graham and Florida Democratic Party Chair Rod Smith today to condemn the GOP's assault on higher education which has caused tuition to spike, is hampering our state's economic growth and is hurting parents, teachers and students. In 2012, Florida Republicans cut $300 million from Florida's higher education budget and raised tuition on college students by 5-percent. And while Republicans were slashing money from education, they still managed to waste tax dollars on handouts to corporate special interests, passing a budget that the Tampa Bay Times called a "study in pork-barrel spending, reckless policy and a shortchanged future."

For the past several weeks, Republicans have been "under siege across Florida from Democrats" who have been highlighting the GOP's reckless and wasteful education policies. On Monday, the Florida Democratic Party announced that it would begin distributing flyers with information about the GOP's cuts to higher education on college and university campuses across the state, and yesterday the Presidents of College Democrats across the state condemned the Republican's cuts which have caused tuition to spike for students.  

"Rick Scott and the Republicans have lead an assault on our state's education and forced tuition to spike for Florida students at our colleges and universities," said Florida Democratic Party Chairman Rod Smith. "This isn't a question of tough choices, the problem is that the GOP has the wrong priorities: they've drained millions from our public education system, but they still managed to squander our tax dollars on handouts to Tallahassee special interests. These reckless policies are hurting our parents, teachers and students, and Florida's middle class families will remember the Republicans' failed policies in November." 

"I know first hand that investing in Florida's education system is the key to growing our economy and helping businesses create jobs, but sadly the Republicans in Tallahassee seem to have forgotten this basic fact," said Senator Bob Graham. "Our great universities and colleges are the pathways success and opportunity for middle class families, but this pathway is being threatened by misguided Republican values that I don't respect. Standing here, surrounded by Florida students who are feeling the brunt of the GOP's wrong education policies, should remind all of us how important it is that we do everything we can to elect Democrats so that the people of our state can have representatives who are looking out for the best interests of our students and the best interests of our future, which will in turn lead to the economic growth of our state."  

"Here in Tallahassee, we've seen up close how the Republican's policies are hurting Florida's students," said Matty Budesa, President of the FSU College Democrats. "The GOP has cut hundreds of millions of dollars from  Florida's universities — causing tuition to spike and hurting my fellow students who are working hard to put themselves through school. Florida students have not forgotten who is behind their skyrocketing tuition, and we know that we simply cannot afford four more years of Republican control. That's why we are committed to do all we can to send Democrats to the state legislature so that our state government will finally put Florida's middle class families and students ahead of the corporate special interests who control Tallahassee." 

BACKGROUND:

In 2012, Republicans cut $300 million for higher education and universities. “The House and Senate have agreed to cut universities by $300 million” [Palm Beach Post ,3/1/2012]

Republicans forced students to face tuition increases. “Students still could face double-digit tuition increases while schools will spend less to educate them” [Tampa Bay Times, 3/7/2012]; “’We are being put in a position of having no choice but to raise tuition,’ Ramil said” [WUSF, 3/1/2012]

UCF Trustees made clear that state budget cuts to higher education were prompting tuition increases.  “UCF trustees reluctantly approved tuition increases in May while making it clear that they are concerned about repeated state budget cuts to higher education” [UCF Board of Governors,6/21/12]

At Gulf Coast University, "Students sign petition protesting education cuts." Florida Gulf Coast University students say they are fed up with the years of state funding cuts to education and they are taking action. Students have started a petition denouncing the $3.6 million in cuts. Students this school year will spend less time inside Florida Gulf Coast University's library, and not because they choose to. The university says it can no longer afford to keep the campus building open late at night or on Saturday…'The state really needs to invest more, not less in higher education and make that affordable    and have access for more, not fewer students,' said Bradshaw. [ABC 7, 9/20/12]

All public Florida universities will see tuition increases between 9% and 15%. The hikes come as Florida’s public universities are hit by $300-million dollars in state funding cuts [ABC, 6/21/12]

In 2012, Republican's budget raised tuition on college students by 5-percent. “It includes a 5 percent tuition increase for Florida college students” [Gainesville Sun, 3/5/12]

Republicans like Rick Scott said education would be a priority. “I’d like to focus on what I believe are the three most important jobs I have… two, securing the right of every Floridian to a quality education” [Gov. Scott’s “State of the State,” 1/9/2012]

But Scott and Republicans puts corporate special interests over middle class families.“The proposed 2012-13 budget…is a study in pork-barrel spending, reckless policy and a shortchanged future.” [Tampa Bay Times, 3/7/2012]

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