We have reached the midpoint of the Florida Legislative Session and so I want to bring you up to date on the current developments. Last week, the House and Senate passed their respective budgets. They will now go into conference negotiations and will emerge with a final budget, hopefully by the scheduled legislative closing date of April 30. The impact to UWF is posted in chart format on the budget Web site at: http://www.uwf.edu/president/budget/budgetinfo.cfm.
At present, the House is proposing a 4.5 percent reduction to what was our FY 2009-2010 base while the senate is proposing a 2 percent cut. Both houses are proposing an 8 percent across the board tuition increase, and a 7 percent differential tuition increase, and are including these amounts in their calculation of our base budget. Both are proposing a continuation of federal stimulus of $4.2 million for one final year; these funds are non-recurring and will not be a part of our budget next year.
The House is suggesting changes to employee benefits such as the elimination of the health insurance subsidy for state retirees and state employees, as well as a 3 percent pay cut for state employees, including universities. The Senate is proposing that state employees be required to contribute .25 percent of their retirement benefits annually.
The senate is also proposing $1.4 million in non-recurring New Florida funds. This is the plan detailing how universities can help drive the Florida economy to be a more robust, knowledge-based environment. They also include $11 million in PECO for the College of Business facility.
In general, we are pleased with the current proposals, as the cuts could be much worse. We expect the compromise position to be somewhere in the middle and to emerge over the next four weeks. We remain cautious however, because next year we will not receive the federal stimulus funds, the federal maintenance of effort requirement will be removed (which required the Legislature to invest the same amount in education as they invested in 2006), and national and state forecasters are predicting that 2011-2012 will be the bottom of the economic collapse.
For those reasons, the vice presidents and I are beginning discussions with the campus chairs, Dean’s Council and Faculty Senate on a three-year budget model. This is a best practice in higher education and governmental worlds as it places a strategic and mindful watch on our future.
I look forward to discussing the Legislative outcomes and budgeting models with you at a Town Hall Meeting Tuesday, April 27, at 9 a.m. in the University Commons Auditorium. I hope to see you there.