Gov. Ron DeSantis, as part of his more than $500 million in line-item vetoes in the 2023-24 fiscal year budget, slashed $22.9 million from approved funding for the University of South Florida (USF).
The largest cut — $20 million — was to the school’s Sarasota-Manatee campus, nixing funding for a STEM nursing facility.
The funding would have helped pay for “planning, design and construction” for a new academic facility that would “enable the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus to create new and expand current Nursing/STEM-related academic programs; provide new research capabilities and increase research productivity; host academic conferences and community events; attract and retain excellent faculty and students; and support national, state, regional and local demands for graduates with STEM-related degrees,” according to the proposal.
Several groups indicated support for the funding, including the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce, the Manatee Chamber of Commerce, the Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance, the Bradenton Area Economic Development Corporation, the Economic Development Corporation of Sarasota County, the Manasota Black Chamber of Commerce, and the Venice Chamber of Commerce, according to the appropriations request.
This facility, which received $3 million in last year’s state budget, will allow for the expansion of degree offerings in the STEM and nursing fields across USF and will significantly increase the number of students who can enroll in and complete those programs on the Sarasota-Manatee campus.
USF leaders had previously celebrated the $20 million inclusion, which was more than the $11.2 million Rep. Will Robinson included in his appropriations request.
“We are incredibly grateful for the Florida Legislature’s support to invest in the university and our campus. Our new research and academic building will allow us to expand our nursing, engineering and other academic programs, transform our campus and elevate the higher education profile of our region, addressing a heightened demand for more nurses, business professionals, scientists, engineers and other professions,” USF Sarasota-Manatee Regional Chancellor Karen Holbrook said at the time.
DeSantis also vetoed $2.9 million for a simulation modeling project to reduce opioid overdoses. The funding would have been earmarked for the Department of Mental Health and Law and Policy at USF to develop simulation modeling tools to improve responses and treatments for opioid use and overdoses, according to USF.