The 2019 Florida Legislative Session ended, just a day late, but with a relatively smooth conclusion. The outcome is best characterized as the good, bad, and (maybe) ugly. There are several important victories secured by Florida State University, but it was not higher education’s best session, by any means.
The Florida House of Representatives initially proposed a $135 million recurring cut to universities budgets., the Senate wanted to increase funding by $80 million. Ultimately the legislature met in the middle, which resulted in a $35 million base budget cut spread across all universities, resulting in a $5.6 base budget cut to FSU. The budget cut was almost completely erased by the special appropriation we received through the National Ranking Enhancement line, but we certainly did not see the increases that we have received in the past.
FSU did not receive any new building funds this year. We were in good (or rather bad) company. One half of the universities received no building funds. The tax source for university building funds has dwindled exponentially in the last decade. There is cause for concern for the future of state building funds. The Legislature passed sweeping laws to restrict future building projects. Fortunately, FSU has two projects that have received funding in the past, and though we did not receive funding in this legislative session, we believe there is still support for finishing our projects.
The (maybe) Ugly
Of great concern is the legislature’s departure from appropriating funds according to formulas established in law. Specifically, they did not provide university performance funding or preeminence funding. There was not a great deal of discussion for this departure. What we do know is that the Legislature has commissioned a study to revamp the entire university funding structure, with a special emphasis on investing in preeminent universities. What we don’t know is what this new structure will look like, and what type of financial commitment legislators are ready to make for higher education.
The uncertainty is uncomfortable, but there is reason to be optimistic. U.S. News and World Report recently identified the state of Florida as having the number one higher education system in the nation. We are contributing to the economic, social, and fiscal success of Florida. We are already retooling and reengaging state leaders on the value of higher education, particularly the value, efficiency, and excellence of Florida State University, We look forward to enlisting your help to spread the word.
The next legislative session begins in January. We expect better days ahead.
Thank you for your support of Florida State University. Your participation in the process is key to our future success.
|World Class Faculty and Scholars||$25,000,000|
|Professional and Graduate Degree Excellence||$20,000,000|
|Interdisciplinary Research & Commercialization Building||$22,225,899|
|Legacy Hall Business Building||$17,000,000|
|STEM Teaching Laboratory||$6,966,187|
|FAMU-FSU Joint Use Engineering Building||$15,200,000|
|Tallahassee Campus Projects|
|FAMU-FSU Engineering Integrated Advancement||$6,394,000|
|Panama City Campus Project|
|Hurricane Michael Repair and Restoration||$3,800,000|
|Rural Northwest Florida Public Health||$578,544|
Preeminence Funding - $20 million
Florida State University has used preeminence funding in the past to make considerable investments in the quality and stature of the university, and it’s working. In 2016, we had the greatest rise in national public university rankings, climbing 5 spots. FSU has a goal to become a Top 25 university and a leader in student career readiness. Preeminence funds will allow us to continue the strategic investments, particularly in the STEM fields. Outcome - $19.5 million
Faculty Retention & Lowering Student/Faculty Ratio - $31.5 million
Florida State University’s current student faculty ratio is 25 to 1, which places us at 168th in the country according to US News and World Report. Investments in new hires combined with faculty retention would lower our ratio to 21 to 1. FSU’s ultimate goal is 17 to 1, which is the level that Top 50 universities provide. This investment would improve student success and promote growth in key academic areas. Outcome - World Class Faculty and Scolars Program -- S11 million
Graduate and Post-Doctoral Students - $18.5 million
Florida State University has a disproportionately lower number of graduate students and postdocs than our Public Research I peers. Graduate students and post-doctoral research associates (postdocs) are integral to the research activity of top universities. Our current graduate student-to-undergraduate student ratio places us at 59th out the 81 amongst these peers. Our postdoc population is currently around 65% of the average Public Research I university. FSU is committed to dramatically growing its research activity, but this is not possible without significant expansion of the graduate student and postdoc populations. Outcome - $9 million
Performance Funding - $10.6 million
Florida State University has responded to performance-based funding by aligning key efforts and resources to strengthen student success. Performance funding has enabled FSU to make considerable investments in elevating our retention and graduation rates, raising our retention rate to 94% and four-year graduation rate to 65%. FSU is ranked in the top 15 of all public universities in the country on this specific metric. Continued performance funding will extend FSU’s trajectory and enable even more students to receive the support and engagement needed to graduate and succeed in the job market. Outcome - $12.5 million
Strategic Academic and Research Buildings
Each year, Florida State University administrators identify priorities determined to be vital to the operation and growth of the university. Below were the top priorities for the 2016 Legislative Session, which began on January 12th and ended on March 11th. Session outcomes are listed after each priority.
The legislature established criteria for state universities to meet in order to achieve preeminent status. FSU meets all 12 of the 12 metrics required for preeminence, which supplements the university’s annual base budget with $25 million in preeminence funding. This enhancement has, to date, allowed Florida State to hire 57 new faculty members in STEM fields and other disciplines, and take on 23 campus-based entrepreneurs, who teach students how to turn their ideas and innovations into practical enterprises. Boosting preeminence funding by an additional $10 million will allow FSU to stay nationally competitive in its efforts to attract top-tier faculty, particularly in STEM fields, and move into the Top 25 among public universities.
In addition, performance-based funding is allocated to state universities that exceed Board of Governors benchmarks and FSU anticipates again surpassing these standards, making performance-based funding an ongoing priority for 2016.
Outcome: The legislature appropriated an additional $10 million for preeminence to Florida State, for a total of $35 million in annual recurring preeminence funding. In addition, $500 million in performance funds, which are tied to a set of BOG metrics distinct from the legislature’s preeminence metrics, also passed this session.
A number of factors have negatively impacted state revenue sources dedicated to the construction, renovation and expansion of educational facilities. As such, facility priorities at Florida State include:
In 2011, the Courtelis Matching Gift program was suspended and, consequently, no gifts from that point forward qualified for a state match. However, Florida State still had more than $10.5 million in prior gifts waiting to be matched before the suspension. These donations are critical to facilities construction and Florida State requests this program be reinstated and the prior-gift backlog be fully funded.
Outcome: Was not addressed
FSU requests that last year’s $1 million non-recurring allocation be made recurring. This revenue will be divided between student scholarships (approximately $600,000) and two additional faculty hires (approximately $400,000) to enhance the Law School’s ability to attract and retain high-achieving students, improve its student-faculty ratio, and maintain the FSU College of Law’s Top 25 national standing among public law schools.
Outcome: The legislature funded this project.
To improve the academic quality, research rigor, efficiency and efficacy of the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering, critical investments are required. These funds will allow for the hiring of five additional faculty members in areas of strategic need, and address the cost of equipment, technology, labs, and other research essentials for all newly hired engineering faculty. Benefits to the state include marked increases in degree-holders in core engineering fields, levels of external-grant funding, number of patents filed, startup companies launched, and the commercialization of research products.
Outcome: Was not addressed
Black Student Union Renovation The legislature appropriated $1.5 million for this project.