September 07, 2007

Crist's budget recommendations would violate Florida law

Governor Charlie Crist's budget-cut recommendations would cut $188 million from the state university system, the majority of that from existing programs; $45.3 million from direct community college support; and additional funds from specific programs in higher ed that aren't categorized in higher ed. While he would cut $120 million from recurring funds in the state's aid program to elementary and secondary schools (Florida Education Finance Program), he'd replace every dollar with nonrecurring general-revenue funds.

If enacted, this disproportionate slicing of higher ed (more than 35% of general-revenue cuts coming from higher education) appears to wildly violate Florida Statutes 415.16(2):

If the state appropriations from the General Revenue Fund for the benefit of the uniform system of public free schools, state institutions of higher learning, and community colleges cannot be paid in full during any given year, they shall be diminished only in the same proportion that appropriations for all other purposes from the General Revenue Fund are diminished during such year. Additionally, any funding reductions to public free schools, state institutions of higher learning, and community colleges shall be diminished in proportions identical to one another. For the purpose of implementing this section, general revenue funds exclude the administrative budgets of the Board of Governors and the Department of Education.

If the legislature goes along with the governor's plans, it's very hard to see how it avoids violating Florida law.

This restriction on budget cutting didn't hit any of the stories thus far on Crist's plan. According to a St. Petersburg Times article this morning, SUS Chancellor Mark Rosenberg said, "It seems we have a governor who wants to protect K-12, but is willing to throw higher education under the bus." According to the Jacksonville Times-Union, Rep. Stephen Wise said, "What the governor wants would have a disastrous effect on community colleges, which are one of the engines that runs the state's workforce." And while other stories noted the cuts to higher education, reporters didn't dig to see if the cuts would be legal.

Posted in Higher education on September 7, 2007 08:45 AM | |