TAMPA — Florida can transform its economy by doubling spending on higher education, university system chancellor Frank Brogan said Wednesday.
To an economy based on agriculture, tourism and growth, Brogan wants to add a fourth leg, knowledge and innovation.
In what promises to be his first big legislative test as chancellor, the former lieutenant governor said he plans to ask the Legislature to add about $100 million to next year's proposed $3 billion core budget for the state university system.
That, he said, should be the first installment in a long-term commitment of investment.
Over five years, Brogan proposes to add $1.75 billion in recurring state funding to Florida's 11 public universities.
Combined with tuition increases initiated by individual universities, the new funding would roughly double the current budget from general revenue and lottery money. That's a goal endorsed this month by the Florida Council of 100, the state's leading business organization.
Brogan contends that creating more degreed Floridians with creative and analytical skills will help "slingshot" the state out of the recession.
"Yes, these are big numbers, and yes, times are tough, but I submit this exactly when people should work to find this kind of money," he said. "Now's the time to do it, because I think now is the time of greatest need."
Half the new funding would be spent developing degrees in targeted areas such as science, technology, engineering and math.
The other half would go to developing graduates with degrees needed for regional and statewide development. Those disciplines would include business, nursing, computing, construction, architecture and education.