USF awaits budget approval
All USF can do now is sit and wait for the governor.
The state Legislature finished its annual state budget meeting, proposing more than $300 million for USF, including $12 million for a new teaching facility for the College of Visual and Performing Arts and $19 million for a science teaching and research facility.
Gov. Jeb Bush, who will sign the budget today at 1:30 p.m., can still exercise his veto power and cut line items from the state’s $70.8-billion state budget.
“What the governor will veto is unknown at this time,” Chief Financial Officer Carl Carlucci said. “We think that our projects will be OK because they are all on the (Board of Governors) request list.”
The new facilities are funded by Public Education Outlay Funds (PECO) and are on the BOG request list, increasing the probability they will be approved.
PECO funds are project-specific funds that differ from the $216 million in educational and general activities funds and the $108 million in lottery funds, which go toward payroll and University operations.
“USF has a billion-dollar budget,” Carlucci said. “The State of Florida provides about $300 million including tuition. Sure $300 million is a lot of money, but our payroll alone is double that. Another way of looking at it is that for 40,000 students, this is $7,500 spent on the instruction for each student, including their tuition.”
The PECO projects are what help USF continue to grow.
“Our need for a new music facility is critical and our current teaching laboratory space is woefully inadequate,” Carlucci said.
Jack Wilkins, chairman of the building committee for the College of Visual and Performing Arts, echoed Carlucci’s sentiments about the fine arts facilities and said the building’s problems were starting to become extreme.
“You can hang out for a while in a couple of rooms and start coughing and wheezing and all that stuff,” Wilkins said. “The building is one of the first buildings on campus and it was built for about 100 students.”
According to its Web site, the Physical Plant issued a work order to remove asbestos from Room 104 in the Fine Arts building. It’s been a long time coming for Wilkins, who said a new facility was promised to the college 30 years ago.
While the improvements are good news for USF students, Carlucci said the University needs more funds to help its rapid growth.
“The numbers show that USF still has less space per student in most categories than any other public university in Florida,” Carlucci said. “USF is the fastest growing Florida university in terms of enrollment, but the funding we receive for new space is not keeping up with our growth.”
According to the Florida Board of Governors Web site, FLbog.org, USF is receiving a $27,545,148 increase in appropriations from last year.
“We did well compared to last year,” Carlucci said. “But there was more PECO money to go around this year, (and) what the governor will veto is unknown at this time.”
Last year, Bush vetoed a $1-million proposal for the visual and performing arts teaching facility and $1.8 million for renovating the HMS building for the School of Architecture and Community Design.
Also included in the budget is $60 million for grants and aids for USF Medical Center, $3.4 million in Challenge Grants and $2.4 million in student financial assistance.
The budget also proposed $8.3 million for utilities, infrastructure and capital renewal, $8.6 million for a new medical office building, $1.5 million for the Center for Advanced Health Care, $5 million for a Globalization Research Center and $621,637 for a new Diagnostic and Learning Resource Center.
While not related to USF’s budget, $1.3 million was proposed for the USF/Florida Mental Health Institute’s autism program and $18 million was marked for the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center.
USF’s allocations by the numbers(pending gubernatorial approval)
Educational & General Activities – $216,440,825Lottery Funds – $108,361,006Grants and Aids for USF Medical Center – $60,810,613Challenge Grants – $3,418,738Student Financial Assistance – $2,411,986
PECO (Public Education Capital Outlay Funds) Utilities/infrastructure/capital renewal – $8.3 million Visual and Performing Arts Facility – $12,167,602 Science Teaching & Research Facility – $19,953,755
Medical Office Building – $8.6 millionCenter for Advanced Health Care – $1,535,530Globalization Research Center – $5 millionDiagnostic and Learning Resource Center – $621,637