Before the 2012 legislative session, leaders of the House and Senate, as well as the Governor, warned that higher education faced severe budget cuts this year. They also called for a transformation of the structure and curriculum of public universities and colleges to reduce expenses even more in the future. At the end of the session, legislators approved the budget cuts but postponed the structural transformation process until 2013.
Faculty can now survey the economic damage inflicted by the leadership of the House and Senate. In the attached report prepared by Pat Dix, the Florida Education Association (FEA) government relations specialist for higher education, we have the details of what legislators actually did in each category of funding. (Appendix B-1 is the Florida College System. Appendix B-2 is the State University System.)
The damage could be even worse if the Governor vetoes tuition increases in the General Appropriations Act (HB 5001), or if the Governor fails to veto the proposed new 12th university (SB 1994), which was the quid pro quo of the Senate Budget Chair for passing a budget this year. (Members of FEA received an email blast message asking them to email the Governor to veto the 12th university bill.) You can also ask the Governor to veto HB 5005, which shifts retirement costs from the employer to employees for participants in ORP. After the Governor decides (by April 21), I will send a report on how higher education fared in the session and on the threats faculty face in the 2013 session.
To contact the Governor on vetoes affecting higher education, faculty can email him here. Click on Email the Governor. Remember to send messages from a private computer. One or two polite sentences stating what you support or oppose is most effective.
The simplest way to see the final version of a bill is to go to the Florida House and click on the top tab “Bills.” Senate bills are always even numbers (SB 00) and House bills and always odd numbers (HB 11). You may choose either chamber or “both.” Enter the bill number and the history of the bill will come up. Go to the section on “Bill Text” and choose the top entry, which is the most recent version of the bill. An enrolled bill is one being sent to the Governor.
The End of Session Legislative Report can be found here.