Gov. Charlie Crist just announced his proposal for a $7.1 billion higher education budget that includes $100 million more in annual base funding for the 11 universities. Yet nowhere in the press release does it say where that money will come from in the state budget, which is projected to be anywhere from $1 billion to $3 billion in the hole for 2010-11.
He also wants a $67-million increase for Florida’s 28 community colleges "to meet rising enrollment without increasing tuition." Will the extra cash come from the gambling compact that doesn't yet exist, as he proposes for his K-12 budget?
The proposal came on the same day he booted former Gov. Jeb Bush's appointees from the board that oversees the universities, and within hours of the Board of Governors unveiling its initiative to secure $1.75 billion more in state funding over the next 5 years for universities.
But talk to legislative leaders, and the proposals sound like fairyland wishes.
Senate president Jeff Atwater earlier this week said universities are likely to face cuts -- not significant hikes. He called Crist's budget proposals so far "optimistic." And House Speaker designate Dean Cannon said the university funding proposal is "ambitious."
"You can’t look at any budget item in a vacuum, they all impact all the other priorities," he said. "There are components of some of the things that Gov. Crist has proposed that sound good. Our job is to assemble a budget that reflects what revenues we have available and spends them wisely."