Florida House proposal includes university cuts

By The News Service of Florida

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The House's top higher-education budget writer on Tuesday released an $8 billion spending plan, which would include $135 million in cuts to state universities.

The budget cuts would largely come from a 2.5 percent reduction to state university operational funds.

That means large universities like Florida State University and the University of Central Florida would see their budgets slashed by more than $17 million if the House’s spending plan is approved.

The proposed budget would also reduce the University of Florida’s budget by $29 million.

The budget proposal is 1 percent smaller than the current year’s higher-education spending plan, said House Higher Education Appropriations Chairman Randy Fine, R-Palm Bay. Fine said he was trimming the budget because state universities have unspent state funds after seeing “massive increases” to their budgets over the past several years.

But Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, D-Orlando, said it is difficult to see funds slashed across the board.

“I think that it is important, as we move forward from some of the spending problems that have happened in the state university system, that we do so in a way that doesn’t hurt students and faculty,” Smith said.

Fine’s proposal is an initial step as House and Senate leaders prepare to negotiate a new state budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

Before considering Fine’s budget recommendations, members of the House Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee also unanimously approved a massive proposal that would revamp spending rules, including how university construction projects can be funded.

News Service of Florida