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Weatherford: New thinking, not new money, for Florida Polytechnic

Recent statements made by House Speaker Will Weatherford about Florida Polytechnic University had us wondering whether he regretted his vote last year in favor of establishing the new school. He said today that he stands by his decision to support then-Senate budget chief JD Alexander's push for the university.

"I voted for it, we all voted," Weatherford said. "It was the budget. We didn't have a budget without Polytech. I think that was abundantly clear, and I think we all remember that process very well."

Earlier this week, Weatherford told the Tampa Tribune's editorial board that Polytechnic's creation was a "disaster." He later clarified his comments in an interview with the Lakeland Ledger, saying he was referring to recent reports that the school would be asking the Florida Legislature for an extra $25 million. The school has now indicated it will no longer request the additional cash. The Legislature couldn't afford that request anyway, Weatherford said.

"We are not in a situation where we can build out that campus with any more funds," he said today. "But that being said, now that it exists, a building is being built and we have a university that is moving forward we should be thinking creatively about how we can make this a success."

During the Tribune interview, Weatherford said Florida Polytechnic should consider forming an alliance with a major university outside Florida. Without giving the same level of specific today, Weatherford said that the school's Board of Trustees, the state Board of Governors and Legislature need to "get outside the box and think big about what we can do."