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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Universities would bear half the cost to increase performance funding, under Rick Scott's budget proposal



In his 2016-17 budget proposal the Legislature, Gov. Rick Scott wants to continue holding the line on tuition for Florida's 12 public universities and 28 state colleges, while also devoting $120 million more toward performance-based funding for those institutions.

But half of the $100 million Scott wants to add to university performance incentives next year would actually come from the universities themselves.

Only $50 million of the proposed increase would come from new funding, while the other $50 million is proposed to come out of the 12 universities' base operating budgets.

Performance funding is doled out to each university based on how well each institution "performs" on 10 metrics, including average cost per graduate, percent of graduates employed or continuing education and the institution's six-year graduation rate.

The universities requested a $100 million increase to their performance funding dollars for the 2016-17 year, which would bring that funding to a record-high $500 million -- a figure included in Scott's plan.

The governor's suggested budget does not include another high-priority item for the university system: a special $20 million allocation universities requested to improve staffing levels at campus police departments and counseling services. 

The total State University System budget would grow by $89 million to an historic-high of $4.6 billion, under Scott's plan. He would also add $19 million to the colleges' overall budget, bringing that to $1.2 billion. 

Scott aims to also fulfill the colleges' request for an extra $20 million in their performance funding, boosting it to $60 million total. Additionally, Scott proposes to double the performance funding incentive -- from $5 million to $10 million -- for state colleges whose students earn industry certifications in high-demand areas.

Meanwhile, though, Scott's proposed 2016-17 budget falls about $45 million short of fulfilling colleges' and universities' requested dollars for construction projects.

He proposes to offer as much as $180 million in capital outlay funding in his budget recommendation, but half of that figure comes from a mandatory "dollar-for-dollar match" that each college or university would have to meet -- either through a private donor or by putting forth the dollars themselves within their own operating budgets.

Absent that match, Scott suggests budgeting $50 million for state university construction projects and $40 million for community colleges, compared to $134.7 million the institutions have requested.

The State University System is asking the Legislature for $84 million in funding for its capital projects next year, while the college system requests $50.5 million.

[Last modified: Monday, November 23, 2015 3:01pm]


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