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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Senate prez vows support for higher ed



The House and Senate are $380-million apart in their budget proposals for higher education, with the Senate providing a $120-million increase and the House cutting $260.5-million.

Leaders from UF and UCF, which serve over 100,000 students between them, urged Senate President Jeff Atwater to try and sway House leaders toward the Senate proposal when budget conference talks begin -- as early as this weekend, Atwater said.

"Obviously, we would love to help you get the House to see the wisdom of the Senate budget," UCF president John Hitt told Atwater.

Atwater was careful not to criticize the House proposal, but he reiterated his belief in the importance of building Florida's "intellectual capital" through investments in higher education.

"That's why we made this a core piece of our budget," he said.

Both chambers depend on federal stimulus dollars to stem some of the bleeding, but university presidents aren't building that into their dire budget outlooks -- meaning major program cuts and layoffs are coming.

"It's one-time money," said UF president Bernie Machen. "We need it as a bridge, but we can't use it to build our budget for the long term."

Machen tomorrow plans to release his budget cut proposal, which he expects will be about $100-million. FSU released its bleak outlook earlier this week, some $73 million in cuts and the elimination of 21 programs.

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 10:20am]


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