August 22, 2018

Florida's Higher Education Funding at Risk Under Amendment 5

This post was last updated on December 8, 2021. As new policies are announced, FPI will update this page.

As Florida’s response to COVID-19 takes front and center, concern grows for low-income families who struggle to take precautions against the spread of the virus. Although Congress has passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to address, at least in part,  the public health crisis and economic fallout from COVID-19, many barriers continue to keep struggling families from accessing the assistance they need during the pandemic. As Florida initiates policies implementing the Act and addressing other barriers to the safety net, FPI will update this form. When available, hyperlinks are provided to agency documents or statements that provide greater detail  about the new policy.

On March 22, 2020, FPI and 44 other organizations sent a letter to Governor DeSantis, leadership in the Legislature and agency heads to urge action on 47 specific policy changes to reduce unnecessary barriers for Florida’s safety net programs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. See the letter here.

States with supermajority requirements have seen reduced per-student spending

LAKE MARY, FLAs hundreds of thousands of students begin a new semester at Florida colleges and universities, an alarming new report from the nonpartisan Florida Policy Institute shows that Amendment 5 would lock in budget cuts made after the Great Recession and likely require deep cuts to public services, like higher education, in the wake of another fiscal crisis.

The State University System, Florida College System and school districts’ technical centers deliver 70 percent of associate and bachelor’s degrees and industry and professional certifications in Florida, based on Higher Education Coordinating Council (HECC) data.

On November 6, voters in Florida will decide on a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment that would require a two-thirds (supermajority) vote of the state Legislature to raise state revenues, taxes and fees and eliminate tax breaks and loopholes.

Many states saddled with supermajority requirements similar to Amendment 5 were unable to overcome the vote threshold needed to raise revenue to return to pre-recession levels. The U.S. saw an average increase of 5.8 percent in per-student spending from Fiscal Years 2007-17. The three states with the deepest per-student cuts, adjusted for inflation, are supermajority states: Missouri (-17.2 percent), Louisiana (-16.7 percent) and Nevada (-14 percent). Florida cut spending per student by 9.3 percent during the same time period. Under Amendment 5, Florida is likely to see further cuts to higher education in the wake of the next economic crisis.

“As more and more jobs require a postsecondary degree or certificate, it’s mind-boggling that state lawmakers put a measure on the November ballot that would jeopardize funding for our state’s universities, college system and technical schools,” said Joseph F. Pennisi, executive director of the Institute. “Higher education helps residents earn higher wages, which in turn boosts local economies. Amendment 5 would prioritize the wants of wealthy special interests and corporations over the livelihood of residents.”

The brief also notes that:

  • Meeting the Florida HECC goal of increasing the share of working-aged residents with a high-quality degree or certificate to 55 percent by 2025 would be hampered by a supermajority requirement, as lawmakers would struggle to reach the two-thirds vote threshold needed for revenue bills.
  • States with supermajority requirements have seen downgraded bond ratings and higher borrowing costs, which puts higher education construction and expansion at risk.

The Institute’s mission is to advance state policies and budgets that improve the economic mobility and quality of life for all Floridians.

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