USF Trustees Continue the Budget Fight

At its meeting Thursday, the board said proposed budget cuts remain high and lobbying still needs to be done.


From USF News


TAMPA, Fla. (March 1, 2012) – The University of South Florida’s Board of Trustees vowed to keep the pressure on the Florida Legislature to do the right thing and minimize proposed cuts to higher education, while making sure any cuts are spread equitably across the state university system.


John Ramil, board chairman, opened Thursday’s board meeting with a statement regarding the pending cuts, calling the current proposal of $300 million in total cuts too high and a proposal that would have a devastating impact on the university, its students and faculty.


“The bottom line is that the cuts will slow our students on their path to success,” Ramil said. “It will delay graduation, and it will delay our graduates entering the workforce.”


Ramil said the perception that USF has a large untapped cash reserve is not accurate. Much of the money, sometimes referred to as carry forward, is used to support summer school classes, and to provide for additional and needed classes in the fall and spring semesters.


The money is also used to support USF’s student success initiative, academic programs and library resources.


The Florida Senate and House each passed proposed budgets that contain significant cuts to higher education. Negotiations are underway to reach a compromise budget, which will be presented to both chambers to vote on. The latest information from Tallahassee is that the cut to higher education would stand at $300 million.


“We are now facing the final days of debate on Florida’s budget,” Ramil said. “The news is not good. USF today still faces a huge cut to its base budget, and unknown costs related to Polytechnic.”


Still pending before the Legislature is a Senate bill to immediately create a new state university, Florida Polytechnic. If that occurs, USF will incur additional expenses of $18.1 million to absorb students, faculty and staff currently at USF Polytechnic, which would no longer exist. In addition, funding for USF Health’s College of Pharmacy has been slashed significantly, jeopardizing that growing program.


“We are still facing a huge cut,” Ramil said.


Following the board meeting, Ramil – flanked by USF President Judy Genshaft and John Long, senior vice president for business and finance – addressed a group of reporters, telling them that USF wants fair treatment in the budget process. Also still on the table is whether there will be any tuition increases for students.