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Get the latest coverage of the 2023 Florida legislative session in Tallahassee from our coverage partners and WUSF.

$20 million for USF Sarasota-Manatee STEM nursing facility is included on DeSantis' veto list

A two-story building in front of a blue sky with palm trees in front.
USF Sarasota-Manatee
Despite the $20 million veto for the upcoming fiscal year, the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus will continue to raise support and plan for the new STEM nursing facility. Architects and a general contractor for the proposed $61.7 million, 75,000-square-foot building were chosen in April 2023.

Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed more than $34 million for Sarasota County projects and plans in the state budget; $20 million of that was meant for a new nursing/STEM facility at the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus.

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the 2023-24 state budget on Thursday, but not before his veto pen nixed $510 million in proposed funding.

Over $34 million was sliced from the budget for projects in Sarasota County; that includes $20 million that was proposed for a planned Academic STEM Nursing Facility on the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee campus.

It would be the third major building for the Sarasota-Manatee campus.

Officials said the facility would double the nursing program, offer new healthcare-related majors, and address space demands in classrooms, labs, and research facilities. It would also act as a research hub for the chemistry and biology fields.

Architects and a general contractor for the proposed $61.7 million, 75,000-square-foot building were chosen in April.

A rendering of a building with text boxes surrounding it.
Tashie Tierney
Governor Ron DeSantis is vetoing $20 million for a proposed nursing STEM facility on the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus.

The campus raised over a half a million dollars for the structure at a Brunch of the Bay event last year. Sarasota-Manatee Regional Chancellor Karen A. Holbrook told attendees the facility would not only help with the area’s nursing shortage, but also support careers in fields like artificial intelligence and data analytics.

Holbrook said in a statement following the veto that the university will use $5 million in funding from last year and continue to raise support and plan for the new facility.

"This is only a temporary setback in our continued campaign to grow and transform our campus for its students, faculty members and staff, and for the entire community," she added.

USF was recently invited into the Association of American Universities (AAU), a collection of 71 top research universities in North America.

Even though funding for the new facility was slashed, USF President Rhea Law said in a statement that the budget represents "the largest operational funding increase in (the) university's history."

A recurring $63.3 million was approved to the university. The funds will support USF's three campuses and USF Health.

Law added that although the project was vetoed in this year's budget, $3 million was approved last year.

"While we respect the governor’s decision, we remain committed to this important project," she said. "And will work with the governor and the legislature to explore other avenues of funding to ensure this important facility for our students and faculty is completed as soon as possible."

Another cut from the governor was $2.9 million for the Department of Mental Health Law and Policy to research opioid use and overdoses to improve responses and treatments.

DeSantis approved $24 million in funding for a new Environmental and Oceanographic Sciences Research and Teaching facility on the St. Petersburg campus for marine science; proposed funding for the center last year was axed.

$14 million was also approved for clinical trials of hyperbaric oxygen therapy to treat PTSD and traumatic brain injuries for veterans and active-duty service members.

Nothing about my life has been typical. Before I fell in love with radio journalism, I enjoyed a long career in the arts in musical theatre.