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Senate Panel Takes Up $70.8 Budget Plan

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TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/AP) – The Florida Senate’s $70.8 billion budget proposal, which includes $400 million in cuts to the state’s 11 public universities, will be taken up by that body’s budget panel on Wednesday.

Sen. J.D. Alexander, R-Lake Wales and Senate budget chief, maintains that universities can absorb the cuts because they have adequate reserves. But University of South Florida President Judy Genshaft has called the proposed budget cuts “draconian.”

The proposal, as it stands now, would cut funding to the Tampa university by 60 percent, or about $104 million. Commissioners say the cuts would force faculty layoffs, much larger class sizes and hurt the school’s status as a major research university.

The proposed cuts are far greater than recommended for any other university in Florida. Critics say politics are at work — specifically, state Sen. J.D. Alexander’s efforts to establish a separate Florida Polytechnic University out of USF’s Lakeland campus.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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