Senate To Debate $71 Billion Budget

TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/AP) – Debate will begin Thursday in the Florida Senate on a contentious $71 budget which includes $400 million in cuts to the state’s 11 public universities.

The proposal, as it stands now, would cut funding to the University of South Florida by 60 percent, or about $104 million. Tampa Bay area senators say proposed cuts for USF are unfair and they want to reduce them. University officials have said the cuts would force faculty layoffs, much larger class sizes and hurt the school’s status as a major research university.

The cuts to USF come while Sen. J.D. Alexander is pushing to break off the Lakeland branch campus into a stand-alone university. The Senate is also scheduled to take up a bill Thursday to create that new school.

The House has already passed its version of the budget.

The two sides have until March 9 to work out differences on their spending plans.

(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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.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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