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Norman blasts Lynn over higher ed cuts

Sen. Jim Norman echoed the fury that came out of the University of South Florida this week during discussions with the Senate's budget committee. He took to task Sen. Evelyn Lynn, higher education appropriations chair, for what he said seem like cuts to USF that'll come "on the backs of students."

"University of South Florida, they are not saying that they do not want to participate and be a fair participant in addressing these budget issues," said Norman, R-Tampa. "But either all the smart people that have analyzed their impact and analyzed how it has been divied up are all wrong, or this rom is full of people that don't understand."

He chastised Lynn, R-Ormand Beach, for not bringing USF to the table when calculating the cuts. It doesn't help that there's a bill slipped into the budget to make one of USF's branch campuses into the 12th university, Norman said.

"If this was with any other university in the state, they would be knocking the doors down, too," Norman said. He pointed to the two bus-loads of students who came to the meeting from USF, sprinkled around the room.

Lynn patently denied USF was being treated differently than anyone else.

"We computed it in a fair way," Lynn said. "If the University of South Florida can't compute it, I suggest their finance person -- who is excellent, by the way, meet with staff."

"Sen. Lynn, maybe you didn't hear what I said," Norman responded. "I said, if you would have listened, I said that these people have a misunderstanding either through these numbers or how it is impacting. I said they want to participate... I was not disrespecting staff. I was not disrespecting anyone. However, I think the disrespect is to USF, if you didn't sit down with them before the cuts came down." 

A day earlier, USF supporters came out in full force, emailing and calling lawmakers about cuts they see as disproportionate when compared to other universities. 

The Senate's breakdown of the cuts shows that USF's are, in fact, nearly even with fellow large institutions. The University of Central Florida actually has a slightly higher cut, according to those documents. 

But USF says the Senate is lumping all its campuses together when illustrating the cut disbursement. That includes USF Polytechnic, which under a budget conforming bill would be split off from USF right away with its $35 million budget. And it does not include $25 million the bill would hold in "contingency" until USF gives USF Poly all those assets. It also does not take into account the $18 million in costs for USF Poly faculty and staff that USF is expected to retain, and another $6 million for USF's pharmacy school which now comes into USF Poly's budget.