Group Sues State

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A group of lawyers and educators say voters got ripped off when they approved an amendment creating an independent board to oversee the state’s university system.

“Floridians for Constitutional Integrity” says politicians are still pulling the strings on campus, and your tax dollars are being wasted as a result. The argument boils down to whether the right decisions are being made about your child’s education.

Voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment two years ago creating a Board of Governors to oversee Florida’s university system. It was supposed to take the politics out of the process.

But a frustrated citizen’s group is now suing, saying state officials won’t let the board do its job.

“Floridians for Constitutional Integrity” says lawmakers are still ramming pet projects down the board’s throat.

Spokesman Jon Mills points to a proposed Alzheimer’s center at the University of South Florida and a Chiropractic school at Florida State that the universities may not want or need. “You should care because you need a university system that expends dollars wisely so it can educate your children. We care about our kids. If you waste money, you have fewer opportunities even for kids to go to institutions of higher learning.

But Jeb Bush says the legislature does have the right to appropriate money for projects at universities. If the Board of Governors decides they don’t want the project, they can always say no. So what’s the problem?

The governor appointed the board, which he says is doing just fine, thank you very much. He says critics are missing the big picture. “How do we fund our universities? How do we inject accountability into our universities? How do we get more grads with degrees of more relevance that will add vitality to our state, and if we trip over the chiropractic school and only focus on that, we’re focusing on the small things instead of the big things.”

The power struggle could end up going all the way to the Supreme Court, while parents and college students are left to wonder who’s really watching out for their needs.

The lawsuit over the state Board of Governors was filed Tuesday in Leon County Circuit Court. The state will have 20 days to respond.