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Rick Scott signs bill to boost education for veterans into law

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Gov. Rick Scott–as part of an avalanche of bills he granted final approval to go onto the books today–signed into law SB 7028 on Thursday afternoon.

The bill, carried by the Military and Veterans Affairs, Space, and Domestic Security Committee and its chairman Republican Sen. Thad Altman in the Senate and Broward Democratic Rep. Richard Stark in the House, is designed to increase educational access to military veterans.

Specifically the bill would amend the Congressman C.W. Bill” Young Veteran Tuition Waiver Program to increase the number of veterans it currently applies to to include any spouses or dependents of “honorably discharged veterans residing in Florida and enrolled in a state university, Florida College System institution, career center operated by a school district, or charter technical career center.”

The previous iteration of the program was more narrow, not providing for dependents to receive the benefits. To achieve this, the State University System will forego an estimated $1,608,419 in unrealized tuition and fees, while the Florida College System will miss out on $856,939, according to staff analysis.

The state will have to cover this using discretionary funding.

Scott offered the following remarks on Thursday to mark the occasion of the new law’s enshrinement in state statute.

“Today I’m proud to support Florida veterans by signing SB 7028, extending in state tuition rates to the spouses and children of veterans,” said Scott in a written statement.

“The sacrifices veterans make to defend our freedom are often shared by their families, and we want to make sure every veteran’s family gets the opportunity of a great education at an affordable price here in Florida. We will continue to work every day to make Florida the most military friendly state in the country.”

The bill went into effect immediately upon Scott affixing his signature, though its core provisions will become active on July 1.

Ryan Ray writes about campaigns and public policy in Tampa Bay and across the state. A contributor to FloridaPolitics.com and before that, The Florida Squeeze, he covers the Legislature as a member of the Florida Capitol Press Corps and has worked as a staffer on several campaigns. He can be reached at ryan@floridapolitics.com.

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