In Graham v. Haridopolos, Case No. 1D11-384 (Fla. 1st DCA Oct. 12, 2011), certain citizens and taxpayers with various roles and interests in the state university system brought a declaratory action against the presiding officers of the Legislature, challenging the constitutionality of several statutes and a provision of the 2007-08 General Appropriations Act that restricted the universities’ expenditure of tuition and fees and conditioned the appropriation of funds to each university upon compliance with the tuition and fee policies established by the Legislature. The complainants alleged that these provisions contravened the Board of Governors’ exclusive authority under Article IX, section 7(d) of the Florida Constitution to establish and expend tuition and fees.
The court agreed with the Legislature that the subject statutes were constitutional, because the Florida Constitution vests the “power of the purse” in the Legislature by granting it exclusive and plenary power to raise and appropriate state funds. Furthermore, the court held that this legislative authority includes the power to impose fees necessary to offset the costs of using state government services, and that the power of appropriation extends to all funds in the State Treasury from whatever source. In addition, the appropriation power includes the authority to attach contingencies to the appropriation of funds that are reasonably related to the appropriation. Therefore, the court held that the Florida Constitution does not grant the Board the power to set and appropriate tuition and fees.