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Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Bob Graham urges students to speak out against budget cuts

Former Sen. Bob Graham wants Florida university students to get angry.

The former Florida governor has spoken out vehemently against the legislature’s budget cuts to the State University System, which total $300 million.

Now, Graham wants university administrators to make students aware of the impact the cuts will have on them, and he wants students to make their voices heard in Tallahassee.

“This is a disaster for Florida,” Graham said of schools having to dip into their reserves to balance budget reductions.

Although he hopes to get faculty and alumni on board with lobbying Gov. Rick Scott to veto the cuts, “I think the students have the most at risk,” Graham said.

To get legislators to listen, university administrators first need to get the word out to students. Then, students need to get involved by contacting the governor.

If Scott approves the budget cuts, Graham said, it could be more difficult for Florida universities to borrow funds in the future. Higher tuition and fees are already being used to supplant state funding, similar to the way lottery money was used.

Part of the funding problem in Florida is that legislators don’t have their priorities in order, said Graham, who believes the education system is the most important entity that requires state money and should be the last to take budget cuts.

If you have to make a choice between cutting the State University System’s budget by $300 million or discontinuing a tax break for a special-interest company that sells cigarettes, Graham said, there shouldn’t be a question about what’s better for the public.

Contact Erin Jester at ejester@alligator.org.

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