TAMPA, Florida — Public colleges. Universities. Fallen Heroes.
Bundled together, they make up Amendment 7 on the November ballot.
FAST FACTS ON AMENDMENT 7
- READ the Amendment 7 full text (.pdf)
- Titled: First Responder and Military Member Survivor Benefits; Public Colleges and Universities
- Provides certain death, education benefits for spouse, children of emergency personnel and military members killed in line of duty
- Adds purpose and governing framework of state college system into the Florida constitution
- DECISION 2018: Latest News | Voting Guide
How will the amendment affect public colleges?
Florida has 28 state colleges. More than 800,000 students attend school there. Florida statute already includes language about how those state colleges are governed.
Amendment 7 would add the purpose and governing structure of state colleges to the Florida Constitution. According to the amendment, the purpose of state colleges is “to achieve excellence and to provide access to undergraduate education to the students of this state; to orginiate articulated pathways to a baccalaureate degree; to ensure superiror commitment to teaching and learning; and to respond quickly and efficiently to meet the demand of communities by aligning certificate and degree programs with local and regional workforce needs.”
The amendment would also add that each state college be governed by a local board of trustees.
“We serve a great, great need in the state population and we need to be documented as a legitimate service provider in our constitution,” said Timothy Beard, President of Pasco-Hernando State College.
Beard said there are times when state colleges don’t get the funding they need from the state. Beard believes Amendment 7 could change that.
"This gives us more visibility,” Beard said.
How will the amendment affect university fees?
Florida universities are already included in the constitution. Amendment 7 changes the way the state universities impose, raise and authorize school fees.
Currently, a simple majority vote of approval is needed by the Board of Trustees or State Board of Governors to impact fees. If Amendment 7 passes, a supermajority vote will be needed to impose, raise or authorize university fees.
A supermajority means 9 out of 13 trustee members or 12 out of 23 board of governors members must approve of the change.
The amendment does not impact the price of tuition.
“It’s a great idea for there to be more accountability,” said USF student Chrisley Carpio.
“They’re looking at this as a way to control colleges costs but at the same point it may handicap universities if they don’t have the economic resources to do what they think needs to be done,” said political expert Darryl Paulson, who taught political science at USF St. Pete.
What about first responder and military member survivor benefits?
This part of Amendment 7 requires death and education benefits be provided for survivors of first responders and military members who were killed on duty. This includes firefighters, paramedics, emergency medical technicians, law enforcement, and correctional or correctional probation officers.
Although state law already provides death benefits to first responders, the amendment would add emergency medical technicians and paramedics to the list. The state would also “waive certain educational expenses that the child or spouse of the deceased first responder or military member incurs while obtaining a career certificate, an undergraduate education or a post graduate education.”
Active duty members of the Florida National Guard and United States Armed Forces are also named in Amendment 7. Military members would have to be residents of Florida or serving in Florida during the time of death before their family would be eligible for benefits.
According to the amendment, the death benefits would be paid by “funds from general revenue” or “the employing agency.”
If approved by voters, the section would take effect by July of next year.