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House budget proposal irks college presidents

Members of the higher education community are up in arms over a proposal that cuts funding to most colleges — while giving extra money to three schools in north and central Florida.

The House spending plan awards about $800 million in general revenue to the Florida College System, most of which is divided up among the state’s 28 colleges based on a funding formula. 

But three colleges would share in an additional $8.5 million: Valencia, Chipola and Seminole State. 

Miami Dade College President Eduardo Padrón called the special allocations unfair, especially in such challenging economic times. 

“That’s not the way that it is supposed to work,” Padrón said. “There is a funding formula that was developed by way of consensus among the 28 college presidents. Traditionally, the Legislature has respected that.”

Rep. Marlene O’Toole, who chairs the House Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee, said the $8.5 million came in after the budget was set — and that she chose to allocate it to several projects that had been on her desk.

“These are projects that I deemed worthy, so I put them in there,” said O’Toole, R-Lady Lake. “If we had taken that money and divided it up among all of the colleges, it wouldn’t have been significant.”

O’Toole will present the proposal on the House floor on Wednesday.

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