Graham v. Haridopolos: Control Over Tuition and Fees Was Not Vested in the Board of Governors of the State University System

In Graham v. Haridopolos (SC11-2453), the Supreme Court considered whether article IX, section 7(d) of the Florida Constitution granted the Board of Governors the power to set and spend tuition and fees under the state university system.
The Petitioners in this case argued that the 2002 amendment that created the Board and granted it the power to “operate, regulate, control, and be fully responsible for the management of the whole university system,” included the power to control and spend tuition and fee monies, and therefore removed that power from the legislature. See art. IX, § 7(d), Fla. Const. The Petitioners contended that the legislature no longer had appropriations authority over those university funds derived from tuition and fees, though it retained control over funds appropriated from the state’s general revenue.
The Supreme Court noted that the power of appropriating public funds is traditionally a legislative function. The Court examined the constitutional provisions relating to legislature and appropriations, and pointed out that the power to raise and appropriate state funds remains explicitly with the legislature. For example, article VII, section 1(c) of the Florida Constitution provides that “[n]o money shall be drawn from the treasury except in pursuance of appropriation made by law.” The Court refused to make a distinction between the power to appropriate funds from general revenue and the power to appropriate tuition and fee monies, concluding that no specific power to control any type of treasury funds was transferred to the Board of Governors, and no such transfer of a fundamentally legislative power would be inferred in the absence of specific constitutional language.