The 2012 Legislative Session: Week Seven

Oppose Severe Cuts for State Universities

We are down to the last week to leave messages for legislators. This is
our last chance to stop severe budget cuts. There is reason to think we
could reduce the damage if we stay with the task.

The Senate passed a budget of nearly $400 million in cuts for the universities on February 23rd.  I was there during the intense debate before the vote and noticed that members of the leadership (other than Budget Chair J.D. Alexander) were clearly defensive and felt uncomfortable with these cuts.

The friends of higher education spoke out about the issues we have been raising in our conversations with them: 

·       Why is it necessary to take 20% of the budget shortfall out of the budgets of the universities?

·       Why are we destroying in the budget process what most senators now see as the engine of economic growth for the state?

·       Why is the leadership claiming there are excess funds in the reserve accounts of universities (to cover the budget shortfall) when figures
have not been updated since December 31 and do not reflect information
we have on committed funds not available for legislators to take?

·       How can legislators again take away PECO funds, which save universities from deterioration, and also take away reserve funds, which could be used to help with this crisis in maintenance and safety?

·       Why are we creating a 12th university when we cannot even find enough money to pay for the 11 we have now?

·       How can we justify constantly raising costs for students when we give them less and less in programs and courses available each year?

·       How can we defend taking away more money from universities when our student/ faculty ratio gets worse every year and jeopardizes our
national rankings?

In the answers the leadership gave to intense questioning about the need
to do these things, leaders kept promising that if the Senate would vote
for the bill as proposed, the leadership would find a way in conference
committee deliberations to reduce the damage in the last days of the
session.

Now is the time for faculty to make a difference by supporting the senators
who support us in the debate. We know there is only one thing that works
when we have short timelines: phone the offices of legislators and
leave a polite, one sentence message. Senators need to hear from
constituents to stay on track when they support higher education.

When you call your senator, state your name and say that you live in the
senator’s district. Click on this link and enter your zip code to find
your senator’s phone number:

http://www.flsenate.gov/Senators/Find

Phone your Senator with these messages:

·       “Please support adoption of the House budget for higher education, which does not include severe cuts for universities.

·        Please oppose the creation of a 12th university in this session and follow the Board of Governors plan.”

For talking points for legislators (“Invest in Higher Education”), visit www.unitedfacultyofflorida.org and click on “From the President.”

Reminder: Use a personal phone to make calls to senators and a personal computer to forward this message to colleagues.

Tom Auxter

President, United Faculty of Florida  

Last Name       First Name      District Phone  Capital Phone  

Alexander       JD      (863) 679-4847  (850) 487-5044 

Altman  Thad    (321) 752-3138  (850) 487-5053 

Benacquisto     Lizbeth (561) 753-2440  (850) 487-5356 

Bennett Michael S. ”Mike”     (941) 727-6349  (850) 487-5078 

Bogdanoff       Ellyn Setnor    (954) 467-4205  (850) 487-5100 

Flores  Anitere (305) 270-6550  (850) 487-5130 

Gaetz (D)       Don     (850) 897-5747  (850) 487-5009 

Hays    Alan    (352) 742-6441  (850) 487-5014 

Joyner  Arthenia        (813) 233-4277  (850) 487-5059 

Lynn    Evelyn J.       (386) 238-3180  (850) 487-5033 

Margolis        Gwen    (305) 571-5777  (850) 487-5121 

Montford        Bill    (850) 653-2656  (850) 487-5004 

Negron  Joe     (772) 219-1665  (850) 487-5088 

Norman  Jim     (813) 265-6260  (850) 487-5068 

Rich    Nan     (954) 747-7933  (850) 487-5103 

Richter Garrett (239) 417-6205  (850) 487-5124 

Simmons David   (407) 262-7578  (850) 487-5050 

Siplin  Gary    (407) 297-2071  (850) 487-5190 

Sobel   Eleanor (954) 924-3693  (850) 487-5097 

Thrasher        John    (904) 727-3600  (850) 487-5030 

Wise    Stephen R.      (904) 381-6000  (850) 487-5027 

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