Universities Threatened with $400 Million in Cuts

Florida State University, the University of Florida, and the University of South Florida are being asked to return $400 million in reserve funds to help balance the state's budget.

USF faces an additional $25 million loss because it finds itself in a political battle with the powerful Senate budget chairman over the creation of a twelfth university in the state's system.

State Senate Budget Chairman J.D. Alexander was the driving force behind the University of South Florida's Lakeland Poly Tech campus. Now he want the campus to be independent, and he is using the state budget to force the split.

The current budget plan would penalize USF $25 million if it tries to block the divorce. Alexander has been called a bully for his tactics.

“There has been more bullying by USF’s leadership than anything I would even think about doing, and I haven’t done it,” he said.

Alexander contends USF president Judy Genshaft has tried to block the creation of an independent Lakeland university at every step.

“She’s told numerous folks that she just plans to wait me out and not move forward with it,” he said.

Alexander’s plan also asks USF, UF and FSU to return $400 million in reserves to the state. But instead of asking for a check from the schools, the money is being cut from funding to the institutions, meaning a $79 million cut to USF.

USF President Genshaft was in the Capitol early Tuesday, meeting with key House budget writers.

“Well, we have a lot of advocates and good friends in the legislature, all over, and it's our hope that we can work with them to make a difference for the University of South Florida," she said.

Many senators don’t want to talk about a twelfth university. One of them is Sen. Evelyn Lynn, chairman of the Senate Higher Education Funding Committee.

“I have no position because we don’t know what the cuts are yet,” she said.

Alexander’s committee is slated to spend all day Wednesday working on the budget.

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  • by Scott on Feb 19, 2012 at 12:27 PM
    I thought Gov. Scott was for education. More lies.
  • by Mike Location: PC on Feb 15, 2012 at 09:25 AM
    It's time to vote out the entire GOP. Basically, this will put the Universities out of business as no one will enroll in a NON-Accredited University. The GOP's attack on education, the poor, and women is an all out war on Americans. The State Senate leader needs to resign for this outrageous conduct. They want to attack women, lowering the minimum wage on waitresses from $4.25 to $2.18! They know people tip about 15% and that's not going to change, so basically it's a $2.00 an hour cut on the poor! This attack was paid for by the restaurants giving GOP campaign money! The GOP no longer represents people, just corporations and the filthy rich.
  • by Lou Nathaniel Location: Pensacola, florida on Feb 14, 2012 at 04:16 PM
    you know... I've lost over 25 PERCENT of my income in the last few years due to a bad economy and government foolishness. It is a GOOD thing for the schools to feel the pinch as well and I DOUBT that the amounts stated come to as much as 10% of school budgets. Interesting that media never quite gives us those numbers.
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