Senate proposes lowering salary cap on higher education’s biggest earners
John Thrasher's exit comes amid worries about the future of FSU football. Image via Colin Hackley.

That would save the state $39 million.

The Senate’s budget plan for the 2021-22 fiscal year includes a proposal to drop the cap on the state’s portion of university and college employee salaries from $200,000 to $180,000.

Senate leadership unveiled its $95 billion budget proposal Friday afternoon, which cuts $2.5 billion in spending in both the current fiscal year and the coming fiscal year. Senate President Wilton Simpson‘s spokeswomen Katie Betta said that was one of several difficult choices the budget team had to make.

The university system has 1,150 employees making more than $200,000 from the state while the college system has 44 employees in that category. Lowering the salaries for those employees, including school presidents, would save the state upward of $39 million.

However, state funding only makes up a portion of those employees’ salaries and compensations.

“When looking at areas to make reductions in a difficult budget year, Senators who worked on the bill considered the fact that colleges and universities have the flexibility to utilize funds other than taxpayer dollars to enhance employee compensation,” Simpson said.

In total, the Senate suggests $4.9 billion in funding for the State University System and $2 billion for the Florida College System. That’s down from $5.2 billion for the university system and $2.1 for the college system in the Legislature’s 2021-22 budget.

“We have a constitutional responsibility to pass a balanced budget in good times, and in difficult times,” Simpson said in a statement. “Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, revenues that fund our day-to-day government are down, and we know we have some big expenses on the horizon, which means we had to make difficult choices throughout the budget.”

State school president and employee salaries have been capped at $200,000 since 2013, when the Legislature lowered the cap from $225,000. Compensation has remained capped at $200,000, but would drop to $180,000 under the plan.

Other major portion’s of the state education budget remain untouched in the Senate’s plan for this year.

Simpson had voiced the possibility of raising state college and university tuition for the first time in a decade. However, the Senate’s budget proposal forgoes a tuition increase after DeSantis wrote off the possibility.

In K-12 education, the Senate’s budget maintains the $500 million increase from last year to raise teacher salaries.

Renzo Downey

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.


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