Former Governor Bob Graham wants Florida to put an emphasis on higher education

TAMPA, Fla. - Former Governor Bob Graham was Florida's leader 30 years ago, but he's still working to influence the state's direction today.

Graham stood with college students Wednesday and blasted Republican state leaders for passing $300 million in budget for higher education this year and raising tuition.  He called the cuts an assault on education threatening Florida's future economy.

Graham said when he was governor, the state paid about 75 percent of the cost of higher education in Florida. But today he said Florida pays only about 40 percent of that cost.

Graham accused the GOP-led Legislature of not showing a strong commitment to higher education.

Graham also said, "we cannot continue down this course if we aspire to be a state that will be seen by young people as the place in which they want to plant their personal flag, that they want to be a lifetime Floridian."

Republicans said they were forced to make budget cuts because they did not want to raise taxes in a tough year financially.

They said the cuts were taken out of schools' cash reserves and made proportionally to make it fair for all schools.

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