Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Rift over Usf Issues Unsolved

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Rift over Usf Issues Unsolved

Article excerpt

TALLAHASSEE -- A meeting between the president of the University of South Florida and the Florida Senate's budget chairman on Monday resolved little in the ongoing dispute over cutting USF's budget and creating a new state university in Lakeland.Both Sen. J.D. Alexander, R-Lake Wales, and USF President Judy Genshaft described the closed-door, hour-long meeting in the Senate Appropriations Office as positive. But both said more discussion will be required to settle issues related to a $79 million USF budget cut as part of an overall plan to eliminate $400 million in spending from all 11 state universities in the 2012-13 state budget.Genshaft said after the meeting it came down to "fairness." She said USF should be treated the same as other major research universities, including the University of Florida and Florida State."We all know that the times are very difficult and we're not saying we shouldn't have any cuts," Genshaft said. "We don't want anything to be disproportionate to us than (compared) to other research one universities."Alexander, who is using his post as the Senate budget chairman to try to convert USF's Polytechnic campus in Lakeland into a separate university, called his meeting with Genshaft "a good start to a good discussion."But he also made it clear the Senate is not backing off its plan to have all the state universities use some $400 million of their estimated $859 million in reserve funds to bolster their budgets in the coming year.USF officials and supporters maintain the Tampa-based school is facing an unfair cut in the new Senate budget, while Alexander and Senate leaders say the cuts are in line with the other 10 state universities."We're not going to hurt USF or any other institution -- inequitably or unfairly," Alexander said. "We've got to work through what fair is."However, Alexander said the Senate maintain that the university reserve funds are "a bit high" and can be used in the coming year, with the idea that the funds will be replenished when the economy improves."It's not an ideal policy. I wish we wouldn't have to do it," he said. But he also said alternatives to using the university reserve funds could be even harsher for the schools. …

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