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Is USF a political bargaining chip?

Posted Feb 14, 2012 by Lindsay Peterson

Updated Feb 14, 2012 at 03:36 PM

USF is using every tool it has to fight its latest political battle.

It’s created a website specifically on the Senate Budget Committee’s plan to slash USF’s budget.

Find it here.

It includes a frank plea from President Judy Genshaft.

“Everyone who cares about the future of USF and the future economic development of the Tampa Bay region should be concerned,” she writes in a letter to USF community, alumni and friends.

And, she reminds, please use your personal computer for any messages to lawmakers.

USF faces a $128 million cut, which amounts to about 60 percent of its academic appropriation from the Legislature. That appropriation doesn’t include tuition, which would moderate the cut but not much.

Several of the universities are facing big cuts but not as big as USF’s. That detail is here.

It should be noted that people who follow university budgeting can’t remember a time when the Senate divided up its appropriation by university. Usually the money is appropriated to the system as a whole and distributed to the universities evenly based on enrollment.

Few doubt this is being driven by politics. USF’s COO John Long came right out and said it at Monday’s emergency meeting on the cuts.

The Senate budget chairman, JD Alexander, has several motivations. He seems determined to shut down USF Polytechic to create a new university in his backyard, in Polk County.

But he also needs bargaining chips in the upcoming budget battle with the House.

So it seems USF has become one of those chips.

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