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University chancellor: Thanks, legislature! (Especially Senate)

Universities had prepared for this reality: No funding for new capital projects and only a fraction of funds for critical repairs and maintenance.

The House's draft budget mostly delivered on that expectation, funding repairs at about $44 million and paying for no new projects. But the Senate has other ideas:

In its draft budget, the Senate calls for not only $40 million for repairs but also for $80 million for eight university capital projects vetoed last year by Gov. Charlie Crist.

University chancellor Frank Brogan wrote the Board of Governors Tuesday night with the news about the public education capital outlay (PECO) dollars.

“At a time when funding is particularly scarce, we are gratified that the Senate and the House recognize the powerful role our universities have in growing Florida’s knowledge-based economy through increased degree production and commercialization of faculty research,” Brogan said. “These projects are vital to the success of our New Florida Initiative, and provide the classroom and laboratory facilities that our universities need.”

The Senate’s draft budget contains funding for the following eight projects:
• $5 million for Florida Gulf Coast University’s Innovation Hub Research
• $7 million for Florida International University’s satellite chiller plant
• $7.1 million for New College of Florida’s Caples Mechanical Renovation
• $7.2 million for University of Central Florida’s engineering
• $7.8 million for University of Central Florida’s physics building
• $35 million for University of South Florida’s Polytechnic campus
• $1 million for USF Polytechnic Interdisciplinary Center for Excellence
• $10 million for USF School of Pharmacy at Polytechnic

The House Budget Committee takes up the higher education plan today, and the Senate Budget Committee considers its higher ed plan Thursday.