As state lawmakers head back to Tallahassee for a special session this week, the Florida College System is are asking Gov. Rick Scott to reconsider millions upon millions of cuts to their base budgets.
Thomas LoBasso, the president of Daytona State College and the chairman of the Council of Presidents, sent a letter to Scott asking the governor to “reconsider the proposed Florida College System budget, which includes $30.2 million in recurring base cuts to one of Florida’ most critical economic engines.” The letter asks Scott to urge legislative leaders to restore cuts and “make the FCS whole again.”
“We are all focused on developing a world-class higher education system and building the workforce pipeline — continuing Florida’s course of outpacing the nation as you continue to build our economy, jobs, and education to be the best in the nation,” wrote LoBasso in his letter. “The $30.2 million in permanent funding reduction to the Florida College System will be detrimental to our state and local communities and could take years to restore and even longer to recover. The range of reductions at each college is between $190,000 at our smallest institution to over $4.6 million at our largest with the average a little under $1.1 million.”
LoBasso said the services that will be cut help the state’s “most vulnerable and underserved students succeed, and these budget cuts will hurt them the most — many of whom are first-generation college students, minorities, veterans, students from families with low incomes or nontraditional students returning to the classroom.”
“The Florida College System is essential in the seamless connection between K-12 and our university system,” wrote LoBasso. “As we all work together to boldly ensure student success for our 800,00 students, we urge you to reconsider the Florida College System budget during this special session.”
Scott signed the fiscal 2017-18 budget on Friday, vetoing nearly $11.9 billion, including the main state account that goes to public schools and $410 million in projects.
However, Scott has not yet signed a sweeping higher education bill, a top priority for Senate President Joe Negron. That bill (SB 374) calls for several reforms of the state college and university system. The bill, among other things, modifies oversight and operations of colleges, sets limits on what four-year degrees colleges can offer, and renames the state college system the Florida Community College System.
The Senate sent Scott the bill on June 5, and he has until June 20 to act on it.