While USF Tampa faces deep funding cuts under a budget proposed in the Florida Senate, direct funding to USF St. Petersburg will remain relatively unchanged.
If the Senate’s version of the budget passes the House and Gov. Rick Scott unmodified, an unlikely occurrence, USFSP will take a cut of $600,000—a 2.6 percent reduction in state appropriations. USF Sarasota-Manatee will receive an additional $1.7 million, a 15 percent increase compared to last year.
The plan will immediately remove USF Polytechnic from the system, leaving behind $18.1 million in liabilities pertaining to students, faculty and staff. The pharmacy school, which is paid for from a $6 million line item in Polytechnic’s budget, would move under the budget of USF Health, which would also take a 4.5 percent hit to its state funding.
The chairman of the Senate finance committee, Sen. J.D. Alexander, proposed the budget cut to help turn USF Polytechnic into Florida’s 12th university sooner than had been agreed to by the Board of Governors last November.
“We are here for a very serious purpose and that is our students,” said USF President Judy Genshaft. “We want to continue to increase our reputation and our vibrancy. I know we can do it, but we’re going to need everyone’s help.”
She also said she had spoken with other university presidents in the state and found them willing to work with USF to activate their regional legislative delegations to prevent large cuts to the state university system.
Since its proposal and the widespread public outrage that has followed—including two busloads of USF students traveling to Tallahassee for the budget meeting—the Florida Senate has released the university from paying the government a proposed $25 million for the USF to Florida Poly transfer.