TALLAHASSEE — House Speaker Richard Corcoran said Wednesday he supports the creation of a separate board to oversee Florida’s 28 state colleges.

“I supported it last year,” Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes, said in an interview with The News Service of Florida.

The House and Senate have bills (HB 831 and SB 540) that would create a State Board of Community Colleges to oversee the schools, which are now under the state Board of Education, which also supervises the kindergarten-through-high-school system.

Last year, the House and Senate passed legislation that would have created a new college board, but the bill was vetoed by Gov. Rick Scott, who questioned the impact of the legislation on the state-college system.

Presidents of the 28 state colleges have raised objections to this year’s Senate bill, questioning the need for the new board as well as a cap on four-year degrees awarded by the schools and changes to performance standards for the colleges.

“Let’s see what happens with that legislation this year,” Corcoran said. “Obviously, a lot of the community college presidents are against having a new oversight board. I think it’s a mistake on their part.”

Corcoran said the colleges could have “tremendous success” under a separate board, which would operate similarly to the Board of Governors, a panel that oversees the state’s 12 universities.

“I think if they had their own oversight board they would get more attention. They would have more information out there to the public,” Corcoran said. “I think right now they’re buried in an institution (the Department of Education) that is mostly, singularly focused on K-12 education.”

Corcoran’s comments are an indication that House and Senate leaders may once again find common ground on education issues in the 2018 session, with the Senate pushing higher-education initiatives and the House advancing K-12 reforms.

The Senate is scheduled Thursday to take up a higher-education bill (SB 4) that is a priority for Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart. The bill would make permanent an expansion in Bright Futures merit scholarships and authorize programs that recognize high-performing graduate schools and efforts to hire top-level faculty and researchers at state universities.

Senate Higher Education Appropriations Chairman Bill Galvano, a Bradenton Republican who is sponsoring the bill, has also filed legislation (SB 1172) that would create a “hope scholarship” program, which is a top priority for Corcoran. The measure would allow K-12 students to receive voucher-like scholarships to attend private schools if they have been bullied, harassed or subject to violence.

Corcoran said he expects the legislative dynamic to continue from last year when the Senate supported the House’s “schools of hope” legislation (HB 7069), which is expected to spur the development of charter schools near struggling public schools, and the House backed the Senate’s higher-education initiatives.

“Throughout the entire process, we have been very supportive,” Corcoran said. “So I don’t think that changes. I think we build on what we did last year in K-12. We build on what we did last year in higher ed, and I think the bills (this year) will be even more impactful and more transformative.”