Some Tampa Bay lawmakers are reacting with anger and defiance to a Senate proposal to cut 58 percent of state funding for the University of South Florida.
Those proposed cuts are more than twice as big as the proposed reductions for other universities, according to an analysis by USF.
Senate Finance Chairman J.D. Alexander of Lake Wales pushed for the cuts after USF President Judy Genshaft opposed him on independence for USF Polytechnic.
Senator Mike Fasano of New Port Richey didn't mince words today in describing what he thinks of Alexander's actions:
"When you have one bully in the Florida Senate that takes it upon himself that because he didn't get his way, he's going to punish a great university, I'm outraged. And shame on the Florida Senate and the Florida leadership for allowing these things to happen."
Alexander says he's lost faith in USF to help the Lakeland campus to become independent, and the budget would make sure that happens immediately.
But the Senate budget has to make it through the House...and incoming House Speaker Will Weatherford of Wesley Chapel says those cuts to USF will NOT be part of the final budget.
"The Senate may have a different method in how they came up with their budget cuts than ours, and that's OK, that means we're going to work those differences out. But what I can tell you with certainty is that the House will never accept the budget cuts that the Senate has,” Weatherford said.