Amendment 7 would protect the Florida College System, provide benefits for families of military and first responders, and maintain college affordability for students.
As the only public educational entity not currently in the Florida Constitution, a “yes” vote will affirm the community and state colleges’ role as providing open access, quality education in your community, and the seamless connection between K12 and the state university system.
Specifically, Amendment 7’s emphasis on preserving local authority is key to the success of the colleges. Boards of trustees ensure that colleges can remain responsive to the academic and workforce needs of their communities.
Placed on the ballot by the Constitution Revision Commission, Amendment 7 also requires “mandatory payment of education and compensation benefits to qualifying survivors of certain first responders and military members who die (while) performing official duties,” the ballot summary says.
Further, Amendment 7 “requires supermajority votes by university trustees and state university system board of governors to raise or impose fees.” This amendment, like several others, that voters will consider in just a few days, combines matters that share a common thread – in this case, higher education.
Florida TaxWatch, the state’s nonpartisan spending watchdog, has recommended a ‘yes’ vote on Amendment 7 in its 2018 Voter’s Guide.
The ballot measure, TaxWatch explains, “codifies in the constitution that there is to be a single college system comprised of all public community and state colleges.”
“There are currently provisions in the constitution that codify the state Pre-K through 12 system and how it is governed, and the state university system and how it is governed, so including similar provisions to make clear the role of Florida’s community and state colleges in Florida’s system of public education makes a great deal of sense,” it says.
“The Florida College System is nationally recognized as the #1 college system in the nation and was created to ensure that all Florida residents would have access to higher education,” says Nicole Washington. “This Amendment would enshrine Florida’s colleges into our state constitution, ensuring continued student success and affordability.”
According to a recent Florida Bar Journal article by amendment sponsors Emery Gainey and Nicole Washington, the proposal, if approved, “will make (the Florida Constitution’s Article IX) an all-encompassing section outlining the purposes and governing structures of Florida’s public education systems, including pre-K-12 schools, state colleges, and state universities.”
Moreover, “the Florida College System provides an affordable pathway to high-quality higher education for the underrepresented student populations that Florida will need to educate and train to be globally competitive — those who tend to be slightly older, working, and racially and socio-economically diverse,” Gainey and Washington wrote.
Ava Parker, the president of Palm Beach State College and chair of the Council of Presidents, says,“Amendment 7 has the opportunity to reinforce the role of the 28 public colleges that serve nearly 800,000 students.
“To protect this primary workforce engine of our state, the most important thing to do this election season is make your voice heard by voting. Vote ‘yes’ to protect our Florida colleges. Vote ‘yes’ on Amendment 7.”