Tallahassee, Florida -- March 8, 2011 --
A message from the Florida State University President:
The 2011 Florida Legislative Session opened with its usual speeches and ceremony, but the legislators are ready to hit the ground running. The issues of highest importance to our institution are many and complex, but the budget tops the list.
Even though the 60-day session officially opened yesterday, budget discussions have been underway since January. Florida lawmakers must reconcile a state budget absent the federal stimulus dollars of the past two years while faced with another potential $4.6 billion revenue short-fall. Legislative budget cuts of more than $80 million in recurring dollars over the last three years have taken their toll at FSU. And more cuts are a possibility again this session. Despite these budget challenges, FSU continues to rank among the best public institutions in the country, recognized by national publications as a "Budget Ivy" and a "best value." Consequently, our hurdle this session is to secure funding that will help us maintain our hard-earned quality in the face of budget cuts.
Other budget issues of great concern include the appropriation of our fair share of building construction funds (Public Education Capital Outlay), College of Medicine program funding, and the easing of the backlog of state matching dollars to the Challenge Grant Program, which enables university foundations to receive state matching funds for private, endowed contributions to the university.
With a new administration at the Capitol and new leadership in the House and Senate, it is vital for us to keep on top of issues affecting our university. To this end, we are creating an avenue for you to have a voice and connection with your local lawmakers. In the coming days, you will receive information announcing the launch of "Advocate for Florida State," a grassroots advocacy project created to inform and encourage supporters of Florida State University to communicate the university's goals and priorities, particularly during the Legislative Session. The website invites users to learn about FSU's legislative agenda and provides information on how to get involved with your elected representatives and senators.
We are excited about this new tool and look forward to working closely with you this Spring to make a difference on behalf of Florida State University.
Eric J. Barron President