News that the Senate budget singles out the University of South Florida for a 60 percent cut after the Senate Budget chairman openly criticized the university drew stern responses from backers of the university in the Legislature. Sen. JD Alexander, R-Lakeland, has fought USF over the proposed spin-off of the university’s Lakeland campus as a new polytechnic university and this week said he believed USF wasn’t doing enough for his satisfaction to comply with the will of the Legislature on the issue. After reports this week that USF would be alone in the Senate budget in facing such a large budget cut, responses were swift and harsh. Probably the strongest response on Tuesday came from Rep. Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, who is from the area near Tampa and USF and in line to be the next speaker of the House. USF “should not and will not be singled out for cuts in their budget. Good news is that we have a bicameral Legislature,” Weatherford said on Twitter. Sens. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, and Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland, issued a statement saying they were opposed to the cuts, in addition to splitting off the polytechnic university. “We call upon leadership in the Senate to see this blatant and outrageous move to hurt the University for what it is,” Fasano and Dockery said. “It is our hope that the Senate president will step in and put a stop to this abuse of the legislative process. …. It is politics pure and simple.”
Information from the News Service of Florida was used in this report.