University goals met in legislative session

Florida State University came out of the 2014 session of the Florida Legislature on top, with Gov. Rick Scott signing a state budget that supports the university’s priorities.

These include continuation of pre-eminence funding and increased levels of funding systemwide for performance metrics, support for building maintenance and construction of the Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Science Building and enhanced support for the university’s student-veterans.

“We had a highly successful legislative session. We met all our pre-session goals,” said Kathleen Daly, the university’s assistant vice president for Governmental Relations.

“And the governor didn’t veto anything for FSU. Two thumbs up,” she said.

Scott signed the $77 billion state budget June 2. The university’s three top priorities were supported by lawmakers. They are:

  • Support for the continuation of pre-eminence performance funding

The Legislature included in the state budget an additional $5 million on top of the $15 million for pre-eminence to Florida State University approved last year. Currently only FSU and the University of Florida meet the criteria to be designated pre-eminent by the state Legislature.

In addition, $200 million in performance funds tied to a separate set of Board of Governors-prepared metrics passed the Legislature for the State University System. Performance funds total an additional $21 million of new revenue for FSU this fiscal year.

  • Facilities funding

The top three building projects on FSU’s priority list were allocated funds. The FAMU-FSU College of Engineering III request involves a joint-use project between Florida State University and Florida A&M University that will provide approximately 75,000 square feet of space for the college’s operations, and $10 million was appropriated for this project.

The Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Science (EOAS) Building complex will be a collaborative environment where earth science disciplines can interact. The facility will provide space for classrooms, teaching labs, study, research labs and administrative and academic support, and $20 million was appropriated for this building.

Finally, the Legislature appropriated more than $5.6 million for building maintenance. The university’s utility systems, infrastructure and physical plant continue to be in need of renovation and expansion to keep pace with the growth of the campus population.

  • Support for veterans initiatives

In its ongoing effort to be the most veteran-friendly university in the nation, Florida State has taken the lead in advocating for in-state tuition for veterans, regardless of their state of residency.

The first bill to pass the 2014 legislative session was House Bill 7015, which creates the Congressman C.W. Bill Young Veteran Tuition Waiver Program, which waives out-of-state fees for honorably discharged veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces, the Reserve Forces and the National Guard.

The bill also appropriates $5 million in recurring funds to the Florida Department of Military Affairs to pay the tuition and fees for certain deployed Florida National Guard members at a state university or Florida College System institution; and $250,000 in nonrecurring funds for information technology upgrades to administer this program.

The bill appropriates a total of $26.55 million in general revenue for tuition assistance and administrative costs, base buffering and armory renovations.

Read more about this year’s legislative session in the FSU Office of Governmental Relations’ LegisLetter.