Negotiations continue in the Capitol's Knott Building, but the House just gave in to Senate budget chief JD Alexander’s final-hour request for $5 million in recurring funding for the University of South Florida Polytechnic campus in Lakeland, in Alexander’s home county of Polk.
Alexander’s surprise request for USF Polytechnic stands out in a state universities budget with millions in cuts and was not part of USF's legislative budget request this session. USF Lakeland also figures in a separate funding issue between the chambers. From the college construction program known as PECO, the Senate wants to give the campus $11 million, while the House has offered $3.7 million. The lower amount was recommended by the Board of Governors.
The Lake Wales Republican denied it was a “member project,” something House Speaker Larry Cretul specifically outlawed from the budget process. So why wasn’t it requested sooner?
“I neglected it, I hadn’t thought about it or we would have done it earlier,” Alexander said.
The House's latest offer also includes restored funding for public libraries. The Senate will respond later tonight when the budget chairs meet again.