Budget conference: Lawmakers agree on $73M in operational support for colleges, universities

092221 Budget Update RG 05 (Large)
The two chambers still have to agree on more than $100 million in operational support funding for 15 other schools.

As the deadline for a uniform budget nears, Senate and House lawmakers have agreed to $73.4 million in operational support spending for half a dozen state colleges and universities in fiscal 2023-24.

That still leaves more than $100 million worth of requested operational support at 15 other institutions still in need of approval, with just over two days left before the required pre-vote “cooling-off period” goes into effect.

Operational support is essentially unrestricted money that can be used by the school for most any aspect of its operations.

In a Saturday “bump offer” to the Senate’s proposed budget, the House agreed to $23.9 million for operational support at Pensacola State College. Of that, $14.46 million is recurring.

The House also committed to recurring funds of $21.5 million for the University of West Florida, $11.75 million for Florida Gulf Coast University, $10 million for the University of Florida Health Center, $5.25 million for Northwest Florida State College and $1 million for Florida Polytechnic University.

The House also offered double what the Senate asked for the University of South Florida, recommending $20 million in operational support for the school in response to the upper chamber’s $10 million request.

But the House is now asking for $98 million in additional spending for which the Senate budget did not originally include. More than half — $50 million — would be divided evenly between two schools, Florida International University and the University of Central Florida, the latter of which would receive $15 million in recurring and $10 million in nonrecurring funds.

Other spending requests in the latest House bump offer for which there isn’t yet a Senate match include:

— $15 million for the University of North Florida.

— $6 million apiece for St. Johns River State College, $3 million of which would be recurring.

— $6 million for South Florida State College, $3 million of which would be recurring.

— $5 million for Florida Atlantic University.

— $5 million for Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (Florida A&M University).

— $3 million for Valencia College.

— $2 million for Daytona State College.

— $2 million for Santa Fe College.

— $1 million apiece for Chipola College, College of the Florida Keys, Florida Gateway College and North Florida College.

Budget conference subcommittees will meet throughout the week to resolve differences in each area. When remaining issues reach an impasse, they will be “bumped” to the full budget conference committee.

Lawmakers must reach an agreement on a final spending plan by May 2 to meet the 72-hour “cooling off” period required by the state constitution before they can vote on the budget to avoid pushing the Regular Session past its scheduled May 5 end date.

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


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