- Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed more than $20 million in proposed nursing programs in the state’s budget, despite an ongoing shortage of healthcare workers.
- The University of South Florida’s Sarasota-Manatee campus lost $20 million in funding for a new nursing facility, which would have expanded the nursing program and provided research facilities.
- Another program called ‘Barry BIG,’ aimed at addressing healthcare workforce gaps, had its funding request of $652,568 vetoed. It would have focused on training physician assistants and clinical laboratory professionals at Barry University in Miami.
Despite Florida’s ongoing healthcare worker shortage, Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed several nursing programs aimed at bringing more workers into the health sector when he signed the state’s $116.5 billion budget into effect on Thursday.
One notable cut occurred at the University of South Florida’s Sarasota-Manatee campus, where $20 million in funding for a new academic nursing facility was vetoed. The establishment of a Nursing/STEM building would have doubled the size of the campus’s nursing program, introduced new majors in healthcare fields, and provided clinical laboratories and research facilities on campus, according to the university.
University leaders were so confident in the project being greenlit that they announced the hiring of HuntonBrady and Ayers Saint Gross in April as principal architectural firms to construct the facility, going so far as to publicly release renderings.
“We are thrilled to reach this important milestone in the planning and design of our new academic and research building, which is a centerpiece of our campus’s expansion,” campus Regional Chancellor Karen Holbrook said of the facility.
The veto list also sees a strikethrough for the ‘Barry BIG: Bridging Industry Gaps – Focus on Health Care Workforce’ funding request, submitted by Sen. Bryan Avila, totaling $652,568. The Capitolist attempted to contact the Governor’s Executive Office for more information regarding the justifications for the vetoes but did not receive an immediate response.
According to the request documentation, the project aimed to further the goal of expanding workforce education in Florida and addressing the State’s healthcare workforce gaps.
Based on feedback from healthcare industry partners, the strategies proposed sought to build interest and increase access to educational programs in two high-demand healthcare jobs: Physician Assistants and Clinical Laboratory Professionals at Barry University in Miami.
“Through our state-approved and nationally accredited educational programs, students will receive all required classroom and clinical education, advising, financial aid, and job placement assistance,” reads Avila’s budget request. “By increasing the enrollment and graduation of “job-ready” students in these select health care programs, Barry University will contribute to resolving select critical workforce needs in Florida.”
The requested funds would have served multiple purposes to strengthen the university’s nursing program, including the recruitment and development of additional clinical sites and necessary faculty and enhancing existing classroom resources to accommodate increased student enrollment.
According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, the U.S. is projected to experience a shortage of registered nurses in the coming years, resulting in a deficit of 130,000 nurses by 2025. Moreover, according to a recent report by the Florida Hospital Association, Florida faces a dire nurse staffing shortage that will result in a nursing workforce deficit of 60,000 nurses by 2035.
To help mitigate the lack of available workers, some health systems, including BayCare, have turned to federal resources. In March, the provider received $1 million in funding from the U.S. government to help train more nurses.
The funding will enable BayCare to train 30 additional practical nurses, 120 additional PCTs, and 12 additional RN first-year students. The programs are designed to train and support nurses and other healthcare workers in delivering safe and high-quality care.
By expanding the training and pipeline programs, BayCare stated an intent to strengthen academic-practice partnerships between the hospital network and Pinellas Technical College (PTC), Ultimate Medical Academy (UMA), and St. Petersburg College (SPC).
The funding arrived as a portion of the Community Project Funding (CPF) initiated by former Florida Congressman Charlie Crist, who secured $963,260 through the CPF process for the workforce training for Fiscal Year (FY) 2023, according to federal documents.