After passing a statewide budget that hit universities’ wallets hard, Florida legislators passed bills that will allow UF to increase tuition more than 15 percent and self-insure state employees.
While bridging a $2 billion gap between the House of Representatives’ and the Senate’s proposed budgets, lawmakers slashed $300 million from the State University System.
The legislature finally settled on a budget of $70 billion, and UF’s will be about $36.5 million lighter.
The cut was shallower than last year’s, which took $54 million from the university’s budget.
Although there’s no plan in place yet for how to distribute the budget cuts, administrators are breathing a sigh of relief.
“We are fortunate that it is not as high as it could have been,” UF spokesman Steve Orlando told the Alligator on Friday.
On Thursday, legislators passed SB1752, which would allow state universities that meet certain criteria to raise tuition by more than the current cap of 15 percent per year.
UF and Florida State University are the only schools that meet the requirements this year.
The bill was sent to Gov. Rick Scott, whose previous promise to not raise tuition makes it difficult to predict whether he will sign the bill.
During last year’s legislative session, UF President Bernie Machen proposed a 30 percent tuition increase to cover budget cuts.
The Board of Governors has the power to approve or deny proposals for tuition increases.
Machen has long campaigned for the ability to charge higher tuition, citing that UF has different needs than other state universities.
Student organizations such as the Florida Alliance for Student Action have lobbied against the provision throughout the legislative session and have demanded Scott keep his promise to not raise tuition by vetoing the bill.
Lawmakers also passed an amendment that would give UF the green light to insure state employees under GatorCare, a new model of health insurance.
The model, according to its website at healthplan.ufl.edu, will include more choices of health care providers, keep health care costs competitive and improve access.
It already covers all Shands employees in Gainesville and Jacksonville, graduate assistants and postdoctoral associates.
The bill would allow UF to insure faculty and staff, including IFAS faculty and staff all over the state and UF physicians in Gainesville and Jacksonville.
Contact Erin Jester at firstname.lastname@example.org.