'A devastating loss': USF research facility in downtown St. Pete among victims of DeSantis' veto pen

"As sea levels continue to rise, we must equip researchers with the tools and facilities to combat this enormous threat."

click to enlarge PHOTO VIA DESANTIS/TWITTER
Photo via DeSantis/Twitter
Gov. Ron DeSantis used his veto pen Thursday to reject funding for a series of projects at universities and colleges across the state, as he signed a $109.9 billion budget for the upcoming 2022-2023 fiscal year.

The higher-education cuts were part of more than $3.1 billion in overall vetoes from the budget (HB 5001) approved by lawmakers in March.

The largest university-related veto targeted a proposed $75 million Environmental and Oceanographic Sciences Research and Teaching Facility at the University of South Florida’s St. Petersburg Campus.

The facility was expected to serve as the centerpiece of a new Center of Excellence in Environmental and Oceanographic Sciences, the university announced earlier this year.

Rep. Ben Diamond, D-St. Petersburg, said he was “outraged” that DeSantis vetoed funding for the building.

“This is a devastating loss for St. Petersburg residents and all Floridians, as this new facility would produce critical research in Florida's fight against climate change. As sea levels continue to rise, we must equip researchers with the tools and facilities to combat this enormous threat,” Diamond said in a statement.

Also vetoed was $30 million for a new music building at the University of Florida. Also cut was $1.9 million to build student dormitories at the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences’ West Florida facility in Milton.

Meanwhile, New College of Florida, one of Florida’s 12 state universities, will have to go without $5.2 million to renovate its Hamilton classroom building.

DeSantis also vetoed $5 million that would have gone toward building a new business school at Palm Beach Atlantic University, a private school in West Palm Beach.

DeSantis also cut spending proposed for state colleges. For instance, DeSantis vetoed $22.5 million to renovate buildings at Pasco-Hernando State College’s New Port Richey campus.

In addition, he rejected a proposed $8 million to make renovations and repairs at Lake-Sumter State College’s Emerging Media and Fine Arts Center.
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