- The State University System Board of Governors began considerations for its Legislative Budget Request proposal on Friday, which carries an expedited September 15 deadline due to an early Legislative Session starting January 9.
- The proposal entails a $350 million non-recurring allocation for performance-based funding, alongside $100 million for excellence recognition and $10 million for improvement recognition.
- Anticipating the awarding of preeminent status to a fourth university within the system, preeminent funding is proposed at $150 million. Additional considerations involve deferred capital renewal funds and systemwide cybersecurity reinforcement.
The State University System Board of Governors (BOG) convened on Friday to begin crafting its legislative budget request proposal ahead of an accelerated timeline. The proposal, traditionally due by October 15, must be submitted by September 15 due to an early Legislative Session commencing on January 9th.
The centerpiece of discussions on Friday was a $350 million allocation for performance-based funding. While maintaining the same monetary value as the preceding year, this type of funding is designated as non-recurring, necessitating a renewed request for the forthcoming academic year.
The Board additionally intends to requisition $100 million for the performance-based funding excellence recognition program. The program rewards universities based on annually-achieved scores on an excellence scale, with a focus on non-preeminent institutions.
In alignment with this, a separate request for $10 million is slated for a performance-based funding improvement recognition program, which would serve to recognize institution enhancements within its academic operations.
“I know improvement is very important to many of our members, so we included that again but at a lesser amount,” the verbal proposal outlined.
Anticipating an increase in preeminent institutions within the system, the Board is proposing a shift in preeminence funding, elevating this year’s request to $150 million, a $50 million spike compared to last year. The adjustment arises from the belief that a fourth university will attain preeminence status, a distinction earned by fulfilling eleven out of twelve preeminent metric goals.
Presently, the University of Florida, Florida State University, and the University of South Florida have attained the status. Should the system ultimately maintain three preeminent institutions, funding adjustments are possible.
When accounting for the IFAS Extension Workload Initiative ($5.6 million) and state fire marshal inspections ($3.1 million), the requests collectively reach $618 million.
“In an inflationary environment, we’re keeping things flat, and we have the high-quality problem right now in the state of actually having more revenue (than expected), so from that perspective I don’t think it will put an undue strain from a budgetary perspective on the state,” said BOG Vice-Chairman Eric Silagy.
The Board is also actively considering an appeal for additional deferred capital renewal funds. Three years ago, collaborative discussions with university leaders identified a collective requirement of $1.7 billion to address deferred capital projects. In response, the Board requested $800 million but received just $444 million. Deliberations on Friday revolved around requesting the $356 million difference between the prior appeal and the granted sum. The consideration received support from Silagy, who floated the idea of increasing the request even further.
“If you’re not investing in the infrastructure, it’s degrading,” he said. “If you don’t have the money to do it, it comes back to bite you in a very, very big way and a more expensive way down the road. Frankly … I personally would support and actually inflation adjusting this number because it’s an important message for the legislature, the governor, and Floridians to understand that the costs don’t go down. They’ll compound on us.”
Noting the ongoing difficulty in hiring and retaining IT personnel, members also plan to request approximately $1 million for the next Fiscal Year as potential solutions are trialed and implemented. Rodrigues additionally formulated an idea for considerations to bolster cybersecurity across the system’s members.
“What we’re seeing nationally is education institutions are becoming more prevalent targets for cybersecurity targets,” Rodrigues said. “I think we’re going to come up with a proposal that would be a systemwide cybersecurity proposal. I don’t have a specific proposal to give to you on that today, but I wanted to put the concept on your radar.”
Similar to deferred capital renewals, Silagy, alongside Chairman Brain Lamb, voiced support.
“It’s not a question of if you’re going to get hit,” said Silagy. “It’s when, where, and how bad will it be.”