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UF Lastinger Center funds vetoed from budget

Funding vetoed for the second year in a row.

A $1 million appropriation for the University of Florida’s Lastinger Center was nixed from the state budget as part of more than $1 billion in vetoes.

The funding was set aside for the “Algebra Nation: Statewide Digital Match Enhancement Program” at the center, which researches new methods for teaching and improving learning outcomes.

This is the second straight year the center was included in the budget sent to the Governor’s desk but failed to survive the veto pen. In the 2019 Session, the Senate included $2 million for the center in its sprinkle list.

The center did receive about $3 million in funding in the 2018 budget, including $1 million for Algebra Nation.

The Lastinger Center money wasn’t the only loss for UF in the veto list. Gov. Ron DeSantis also cut $15 million approved for “Universities of Distinction” to help them continue to grow in stature.

The newly created program was meant to highlight Florida’s non-preeminent universities. Currently only three of Florida’s public universities have achieved that status — the University of Florida, Florida State University and the University of South Florida.

His veto doesn’t cancel the program, but it does leave it unfunded for the upcoming budget year, which begins July 1.

Earlier this month, DeSantis warned he would put the budget through the “veto equivalent of the Red Wedding.”

The $1 billion-plus slashing, larger than anticipated, is the biggest budget veto made by a Governor in the state’s history.

As the economic realities of the pandemic began to set in over the final days of the 2020 Legislative Session, lawmakers reworked the budget to a plan worth $93.2 billion. But with tourism disappearing and back-to-back monthly revenue reports showing massive shortfalls to the tune of $1.66 billion, the apparent surplus vanished into a $1.46 billion deficit.

“We always knew that we could see an economic downturn, but I don’t think we necessarily forecast the economy simply stopping for a time,” DeSantis told reporters Monday.

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