1. "I believe that America is not a place where higher education is a privilege that is reserved for the few. America needs to be a place where higher education has to be available for every single person who’s willing to strive for it, who’s willing to work for it."
2. "Students can spend their money better than government can. It should not require a federal loan and decades of debt for students to get a college degree. Price limits access – plain and simple."
3. "A college degree is the surest ticket to the middle class and beyond. It’s the key to getting a good job that pays a good income. And it offers a measure of security, because a college degree tells employers that you don’t just have one set of skills; that you’ve got the continuous capacity to learn new skills, which is going to be particularly important for your generation because the economy is going to churn and change in ways that none of us can even anticipate."
4. "If we are going to out-compete the world, the second thing we must do is make higher education more affordable....Just like any business, we should expect education to become more affordable each year, not more expensive."
The quotes above come from U.S. President Barack Obama during a recent appearance at Georgia Tech University and Florida Gov. Rick Scott during his State of the State speech earlier this month.
Scott. a Republican who got elected in part to a tea party wave in 2010, has waged two campaigns where a key part of both them was a constant barrage of criticism for the Democratic president.
Scott's entry into the political world, after all, started when the former health care executive began assailing Obama's health care overhaul. And Scott has not stopped there. He's hit Obama over a whole variety of issues since then.
But when it comes to college affordability the two sound remarkably similar even if their approaches are a tad different.
Scott, whose talking points usually include mentions of his poor upbringing that was changed by a brief stint in the military followed by college, has been very populist when it comes to the cost of college.
During his first term in office, Scott resisted tuition increases for undergraduates. And then he pushed to repeal a law _ which was widely supported by many Republicans at the time _ that gave Florida's universities the ability to raise tuition above levels approved by the Legislature. Scott even went so far as to label tuition hikes akin to tax hikes (which could give potential future GOP U.S. Senate candidates in Florida such as Jeff Atwater and Carlos Lopez-Cantera something to worry about.)
One of Scott's talking points during the 2014 campaign against his rival Charlie Crist was that Scott undid the tuition law approved while Crist was governor.
The move created big savings for those parents who had purchased pre-paid tuition plans because the plans had been been based on assumptions that tuition would keep increasing at a certain rate. In early March, it was announced that the number of pre-paid tuition plans that had been sold this year tripled, a fact that Scott highlighted.
But like Obama _ who confronts a GOP-led Congress resistant to many of his plans including a push to make community college free in the U.S. _ Scott's own push this year for college affordability appears in for a rough reception.
Scott, who will meet today with student body presidents to tout his proposal, wants the Florida Legislature to eliminate the sales tax on college textbooks, require more transparency about college costs and put in limits on tuition hikes charged by graduate schools.
The Senate bill, which contains all these proposals, has yet to get a hearing even though it is sponsored by Sen. Anitere Flores, a Republican from Miami. A House bill that contains the sales tax exemption for textbooks has also yet to be heard.
While Florida's university officials have not spoken out against Scott's proposals there hasn't been a rush from anyone to endorse them either.
Florida's Board of Governors _ the panel that oversees the state's public universities _ is currently looking at affordability and today Chancellor Marshall Criser III is expected to discuss the issue further.
But behind the scenes one of the concerns expressed about Scott's proposal to limit graduate tuition costs is that there is an argument that medical schools, law schools and other professional programs are supposed to be market driven and tied to supply and demand. (Discuss amongst yourself if this is a Republican idea.) Some of these programs are also some of the most expensive for universities to operate.
Scott entered the 2015 legislative session with a small list of priorities that includes tax cuts, a boost in school funding and the college affordability bill.
But right now it looks like Scott's quest to rein in college costs could be the part of his agenda that is least likely to pass.
So when Scott meets Obama on an airport tarmac in the future they may have something else they could talk about.