House, Senate at odds over higher education cut plan

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The break down boiled down to 'methodology.'

House and Senate conferees are tossing in the towel on higher education budget talks after failing to find common ground.

After a brief intermission to review offers during a budget meeting late Monday, Senate budget chief Doug Broxson and House budget chief Rene Plasencia opted to waive the white flag.

Broxson characterized their positions as “considerably away.”

Among the many loose ends, the budget chiefs largely disagreed on methodology.

“Though I do not believe it was the Senate’s intent, your reduction methodology disproportionately impacts low income students at minority serving institutions,” Plasencia said during the meeting.

The Senate wanted to use the amount of CARES Act funding a university received to determine the size of state budget cuts, Plasencia later told reporters.

The more CARES Act dollars under the Senate, he explained, the larger the cuts.

The House, meanwhile, took issue with that approach, noting that federal CARES Act funding was tied to the amount of PELL grant students enrolled at a university.

Placensia described the method as “flawed” for more urban universities such as University of Central Florida in Orlando or University of South Florida in Tampa.

“They’re going to be disproportionately impacted and have much higher cuts than universities that don’t have such a high PELL eligible student population,” Placensia said.

Moreover, Plasencia noted that the University of Central Florida and other many other schools are minority serving institutions.

UCF, he said, hosts 17,000 Hispanic students.

“You’re talking about a very huge minority population who are being disproportionately cut by that methodology,” Plasencia continued.

The issue now moves along to Senate Chair Kelli Stargel and House Chair Jay Trumbull for resolution.

If they’re unable to find common ground, House Speaker Chris Sprowls and Senate President Wilton Simpson will take up the matter.

Lawmakers have until April 27 to finalize the upcoming fiscal year’s budget.

The 2021 Legislative Session ends April 30.

Material from the News Service of Florida was used in this post.

Jason Delgado

Jason Delgado covers news out of the Florida State Capitol. After a go with the U.S. Army, the Orlando-native attended the University of Central Florida and earned a degree in American Policy and National Security. His past bylines include WMFE-NPR and POLITICO Florida. He'd love to hear from you. You can reach Jason by email ([email protected]) or on Twitter at @byJasonDelgado.


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