You can add another group to the list of those calling on Gov. Rick Scott to veto at least part of the budget approved by the Legislature earlier this month.
Supporters of Florida’s 28 colleges are upset that lawmakers cut $30 million in remedial education funding from the budget and are asking the governor to veto the $1.2 billion portion of the budget that applies to colleges.
They argue the loss of funding for remedial services will harm the most vulnerable students, including minority students and those from low-income families. They say the cuts will also hurt military veterans.
Those from the other side claim the cut in remedial education funding might not be as troubling as critics are claiming. They say the cuts could be offset if schools qualify for some of the $60 million performance fund, which received a $30 million increase in funding this year.
Florida colleges were baffled by the budget overall. While the state’s universities saw a 5.5 percent increase in funding this year, the portion of the budget applying to colleges was cut by 2 percent.
“The cuts are critical across the board,” said Michael Brawer, the executive director of the Association of Florida Colleges. “Instead of innovating and continuing to improve academic support programs and services to enhance completion, our colleges will be focused on trying to make do with less. Ultimately the students will feel the brunt.”
The colleges are the latest group calling for at least a partial veto of the budget. Public schools advocates are urging the governor to veto the K-12 spending plan.
The colleges are confident the governor will hear their pleas for help.
“I think our system has responded to and supported every initiative the Governor has challenged us with from $10,000 bachelors degrees to textbook affordability,” Brawer said. “I am confident he realizes it would be increasingly difficult to keep focused on his workforce degree goals for the colleges with a permanent base funding cut of $30.2 million.”
Scott, who has his own budget concerns, has said all options remain on the table, including a complete budget veto.
The governor was angered when lawmakers drastically slashed funding to two of his own priorities–Visit Florida, the state’s tourism marketing agency, and Enterprise Florida, which handles the state’s economic development efforts.