Higher education infrastructure, research bears brunt of DeSantis veto list

by | Jun 12, 2024



Gov. Ron DeSantis’ 2024-25 veto list cut approximately $98 million from Florida’s higher education sector.


Gov. Ron DeSantis’ vetoes in the 2024-25 state budget has hit Florida’s higher education sector, cutting millions from proposed university infrastructure projects across the state, totaling nearly $97 million in lost funds.

The University of West Florida faced the largest single veto, losing $26.2 million for its Science and Engineering Research Wing Phase II. Florida Gulf Coast University also saw substantial cuts, losing $11.6 million for Reed Hall renovations and $4.7 million for the Wilson G. Bradshaw Library and Annex.

Pensacola State College also missed out on an eight-figure sum, losing $13.4 million for its Training Center-Pensacola project and $250,000 for removing the WSRE Antenna in Escambia County. Santa Fe College’s $6.5 million property acquisition and North Florida College’s $3.1 million warehouse remodel were also vetoed.

Additionally, $3 million earmarked for STEM program enhancements at Florida Polytechnic University were scrapped, while the University of Florida faced cuts of $500,000 for a Water Institute report and $2 million for the IFAS soil regeneration project.

Florida State College at Jacksonville’s nursing program facilities lost $2.8 million, affecting its efforts to address the state’s nursing shortage. Florida Gateway College saw nearly $2 million in cuts, including $952,147 for welding facility renovation and $1 million for waterproofing.

Seminole State College’s $2.5 million Workforce Building B project was vetoed, impacting vocational training expansion. The University of Central Florida lost $1 million for a readability research project and $500,000 for a College of Medicine immunotherapy program.

Other institutions affected include Flagler Technical College, Jacksonville University, Southeastern University, St. Thomas University, and Webber International University, with cuts ranging from $755,922 to $2.9 million. (story continues after table)

Institution Project Amount
University of West Florida Science and Engineering Research Wing Phase II $26,216,727
University of West Florida Educational Research Center for Child Development Expansion $750,000
University of West Florida Developmental Laboratory School Feasibility Study $750,000
University of West Florida Undergraduate Civil Engineering Program $1,500,000
University of West Florida Water Quality Research Center – CEDB $5,000,000
Florida Gulf Coast University Reed Hall Renovations $11,600,000
Florida Gulf Coast University Wilson G. Bradshaw Library and Annex $4,700,000
Pensacola State College Training Center-Pensacola $13,444,915
Pensacola State College WSRE Antenna Removal in Escambia County $250,000
Santa Fe College Property Acquisition $6,500,000
North Florida College Warehouse Remodel and Expansion into Industrial Workforce Education $3,103,866
Florida State College at Jacksonville Nursing Program Facilities $2,800,000
Florida Gateway College Site 1 Building 19 Welding Renovation $952,147
Florida Gateway College Waterproofing Exterior Walls – Buildings 7, 8, 15, 16, 17 $1,000,000
Seminole State College Workforce Building B $2,500,000
University of Central Florida Individualized Readability Research Pilot Project $1,000,000
University of Central Florida College of Medicine – Immunotherapy to Prevent & Improve Muscle & Bone Waste $500,000
Florida Polytechnic University STEM Program Enhancements $3,000,000
University of Florida Water Institute – Science and Economic Report $500,000
University of Florida IFAS – Soil Regeneration & Conservation $2,000,000
Flagler Technical College Building Expansion Project $1,600,000
Jacksonville University GROW Florida Nurses Program $2,900,000
Southeastern University Trades Start Up Project $750,000
Southeastern University Link Program Dormitories/Transitional Housing $500,000
St. Thomas University Institute of Law, Liberty & Capitalism $2,172,500
Webber International University Nursing Program Infrastructure $755,922
Total $96,746,077

 

On a broader scale, DeSantis cut roughly $1 billion in local projects and initiatives. During a Wednesday morning press conference marking the state budget’s approval, the governor characterized some of the eliminated projects as “wasteful” or “unnecessary” for state funding, positing better efficiency through integration into existing programs.

“We did close to a billion dollars worth of line item vetoes and part of that is just a reflection of we wanting to keep the budget within a certain parameter,” DeSantis said. “Some of the stuff I don’t think was appropriate for state tax dollars. Some of the stuff you’ll see are things that I support, but we have actual programs for. So, for example, some of the wastewater projects that were line item, those are eligible for our wastewater grant program.”

The approved $116.5 billion budget sustains a $17 billion surplus and decreases state debt by $500 million, resulting in Florida having the nation’s lowest per capita deficit. It also designates $1.25 billion for increasing teacher salaries and includes substantial investments in environmental projects, such as an additional $1.5 billion for Everglades restoration, along with funding to expedite transportation projects.

Moreover, the budget provides $1.5 billion in tax relief and allocates resources for health and special needs programs, including $717 million for the Live Healthy program and $56 million to support individuals on the waiting list for services from the Agency for Persons with Disabilities.

“This budget delivers historic support for education, infrastructure, and conservation, yet spends less than the year before and includes major tax relief,” DeSantis said in a prepared statement. “We have paid down 36 percent of the state’s entire tax-supported debt over the course of my term, and the state maintains a AAA credit rating, one of the lowest tax burdens in America, and more than $17 billion in reserve.”

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