While many flock to live in the Sunshine State for the weather and non-existent income taxes, it’s possible the State will turn people away for another reason: its education system.

The latest budget cuts to the State University System will diminish the state in the eyes of potential students and professors and put the state’s economic future in jeopardy.

News reports already show signs of this happening.

As detailed by the St. Petersburg Times in September, members of the SUS cannot attract top-notch faculty and administrators to head new programs because of the state’s tumultuous economic environment.

“The State University System faces cuts of between $100 million and $232 million when lawmakers meet for a special session this month, and control over tuition and other university governance powers is in legal limbo. The result: Universities like USF and FIU are finding it harder than ever to recruit and retain reputable scholars,” wrote Shannon Colavecchio-Van Sickler. At the time the article was written, moreover, USF needed to fill two deans’ positions.

Fast forward to January 2008.

The state is expected to be another $1 billion in the hole.

Differential tuition, long a point of contention between popular Gov. Crist and policymakers seeking to provide Universities a lifeline, will not begin to provide USF the nearly $26 million it must shave from its budget.

And, as detailed on the Times’ Gradebook blog Wednesday night, Crist promised the Board of Trustees that he would not raise tuition yet again, dopily telling national press that he didn’t want to put additional financial distress on Florida families.

That is, the so-called stress that equates to about the cost of about 23 Starbucks grande lattes over the course of a semester, according to an Oracle calculation.

Sure, Crist can defer to the bills that families must pay, but even families in financial straits can realize that the hardship of a few hundred dollars is well worth a degree that’s worth more money because of the quality in instruction and practical experience it provides.

As Provost and Vice President of Student Affairs Ralph Wilcox has said, the University cannot continue to provide a high quality education with increasingly meager funds.

By maintaining this policy, Crist will hinder Universities’ ability to make up for shortfalls in state-level funding, hurting universities, students and the state. After all, an economy flush with an ill-educated workforce, regardless of the diploma, cannot generate the capital needed for successful economic growth.