Why are some determined to dim the light on Bright Futures, drop kick election drop boxes?

News 6 political expert Jim Clark breaks down the current legislation in Tallahassee

"It's king of like having a winning lottery ticket and deciding to change the numbers!" Florida republicans want to make changes to mail-in voting even though they have been a big beneficiary of the system.
"It's king of like having a winning lottery ticket and deciding to change the numbers!" Florida republicans want to make changes to mail-in voting even though they have been a big beneficiary of the system.

Many parents would beam with pride if their kid became a neurosurgeon or rocket scientist.

But at the end of the day, parents just want their kids to succeed in whatever field they choose.

It could mean instead of performing brain surgery in an operating room, their Florida scholar may actually perform on Broadway.

So why would some Florida lawmakers want to change the Bright Futures scholarship program to only include certain fields of expertise for college students?

Our News 6 political analyst and University of Central Florida history professor, Dr. Jim Clark, joins anchors Matt Austin and Ginger Gadsden for this week’s edition of Florida’s Fourth Estate to talk about changing the Bright Futures scholarship program and ballot boxes.

Clark says he is befuddled by why lawmakers would mess with programs, which appear to have been working superbly, and drive it into a ditch.

The lawmaker who has been leading the charge to change Bright Futures and ballot boxes is State Senator Dennis Baxley, who Clark says is the Legislature’s go-to-guy for strange legislation.

“It’s kind of like having a winning lottery ticket and deciding to change the numbers,” Clark said.

Bright Futures, Florida’s scholarship program, establishes lottery-funded scholarships to reward high school graduates for high academic achievement. It aims to keep the best and the brightest students in the Sunshine State. Bright Futures has been around since 1997 and has helped upwards of 725,000 Florida students go to college.

Every time you buy a lottery ticket a smart Florida student gets his or her wings.

Award amounts for these scholarships vary. Florida Academic Scholars (FAS) will receive an award to cover 100% of tuition and fees for spring and fall semesters if they attend a public in-state college or university.

Florida Medallion Scholars (FMS) who attend a public in-state college or university will receive an award to cover 75% of tuition and fees for spring and fall semesters.

Now there is a movement to award to students who only pursue certain degrees.

It’s still not clear what studies would be hurt the most but many of the liberal arts could suffer greatly.

Clark said the system has worked for years and in some cases, it’s the only way some students can even pursue college.

He says the slogan appears to be, “If it ain’t broke, let’s break it.”

The same slogan seems to apply for ballot boxes.

Clark explains the Republicans have seemingly created the perfect election system for the Florida Republican Party. This is the first time in Florida’s history the Republicans control both U.S Senate seats while also having a Republican governor.

Clark says you would think this is a system Republicans would want to keep in place. In fact, he says if Baxley’s legislation passed three years ago, Gov. Ron DeSantis would have lost to former Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum. Clark says drop boxes not only gave DeSantis an edge over his opponent but it also gave Rick Scott a slight advantage over former Senator Bill Nelson.

If you would like to hear more of what Clark has to say about Bright Futures, ballot boxes and more, click on the link to Florida’s Fourth Estate.


Look for new episodes of Florida’s Fourth Estate every Friday wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts.

Listen to the full episode of Florida’s Fourth Estate on Apple Podcasts here or on Sticher here.


About the Authors:

Emmy Award-winning anchor Matt Austin joined the News 6 team in June 2011 and has been the evening news co-anchor since December 2013.

Ginger Gadsden joined the News 6 team in June 2014 as an anchor/reporter. She currently co-anchors the 4 p.m. 5:30 p.m. and the 7 p.m. newscasts.