Budget vetoes wont stop programs

USF, once slated to reap the most benefits in Hillsborough County from the 2010-11 Florida Legislative budget, has now received major losses in funding because of cuts by Florida Gov. Charlie Crist. However, that won’t deter the vetoed projects from being completed.

“Crist vetoed the building, not the program,” said Kevin Sneed, who was appointed dean of the pharmacy school in November.

Crist, who signed the $70.1 billion budget Friday, vetoed $45 million from the proposed construction funds for the University – leaving about $10 million for USF Polytechnic and $6 million for the pharmacy program.

Sneed, who is also the associate professor of family medicine and assistant dean and clinical director of USF’s College of Medicine’s Division of Clinical Pharmacy, said the pharmacy program, which may still have a permanent facility constructed on the USF Polytechnic campus in Lakeland, will open in August 2011, using existing facilities on the Tampa campus until funds are available for the new building.

The proposed construction budget, which USF Associate Vice President of Government Relations Mark Walsh said was to be the “largest out of all the universities in the state of Florida,” had allocated $35 million to the Polytechnic campus – $10 million of which was meant to fund the pharmacy program.

The proposed budget had allocated a total of nearly $498 million to USF in operational and construction funds.

Walsh said the operational budget is comprised of funds necessary to run the University and is generally a consistent number from year to year.

Of the operational funds the Legislature had approved for USF campuses, about $338 million were to go to Tampa, $38 million to St. Petersburg, $20 million to Sarasota/Manatee and $42 million to USF Polytechnic, he said.

Last year’s construction budget was a little more than $22.1 million – about $38 million less than the $60 million requested this year.

Now, Walsh said the only option the University has to regain some of the state funding that was lost is to receive a two-thirds vote from both houses of the Legislature to override Crist’s veto.

According to the Associated Press, Crist’s budget director, Jerry McDaniel, said the Polytechnic funding was rejected because it wasn’t mentioned on a three-year list of projects proposed for funding by the Board of Governors, which oversees the State University System.

“We looked at everything that came in late in the process,” McDaniel said to the AP. “Then we spent a significant amount of time over the course of the last several days calling college presidents and speaking directly to them.”

Still, Sneed said the cuts will not alter plans for the pharmacy program, a majority of which will be completed through hands-on training in Tampa area hospitals.

“This veto doesn’t stop us from anything,” he said.