With great fanfare and a huge marketing program, on April 29th, 1988 the State of Florida launched its first Draw games, FLORIDA LOTTO® and CASH 3™. By the end of that same year, the Florida Lottery had become one of the top lotteries in the US with a $52 million jackpot, then a national record for that time.
In 1997 the Florida Legislature created the Bright Futures program to reward high school students for their academic achievements. The program offers three levels of scholarship awards, each with its own eligibility requirements. The Florida Academic Scholars Award funds 100% of tuition fees, Florida Medallion Scholars Award funds 75% of tuition fees, and Florida Gold Seal Vocational Scholars Award also funding 75% which is available to technical students. These scholarships to state colleges and universities were available to all students, as long as they attended high school in the state.
With the challenges in the 2021-22 State budget, the Florida Senate was ready to vote on cuts to the Futures program by instituting a plan that would only offer the scholarships to students enrolling in majors that were considered highly employable upon graduation. That original bill would ask the state’s Board of Governors to compile a list of majors, that “do not lead directly to employment,” and would then cut the scholarship amounts for students enrolling in those areas of study. Then, in a last minute revision, an amendment to the bill will not limit the funds to the degree a student chooses, however the Board of Governors will still make a list of low employable areas of study.
We decided to see what the Miami Power Group thinks of these latest developments and we found the following. Fifty-nine percent don’t trust that the Board of Governors can make the correct calls on future employability. Twenty-one percent is undecided and twelve percent do believe that funding employable degrees is acceptable.
They clearly believe that the Bill needs to take under consideration household income (53%), and that the student needs full financial support to attain the goal (41%). Only 6% were undecided and 0% believe that the state should offer less than the present funding levels.
Therefore the Senate should allow the students to pick their preferred degrees, and any cuts should be first made to students from the highest household incomes and to fully fund the scholarships at the present levels to help those students in need.
No doubt that the politicians in Tallahassee must have gotten the message during the last two weeks, the question now is, will this crisis repeat every year? Or will the additional tax revenue from the influx of new state residents be enough to alleviate the state budget?
Next month we'll take a look at this year's “Spring Break” that has unnerved a lot of citizens, everybody has an opinion and we’ll take the pulse once the dust settles in April.
Best and get that vaccine!