Florida Polytechnic University in Lakeland would emerge as the state’s 12th public university, under legislation signed into law Friday night by Gov. Rick Scott.
The bill (SP 1994) was shepherded through the Legislature by powerful Senate budget chief J.D. Alexander, R-Lake Wales. The term-limited Alexander said accelerating the independence of the University of South Florida’s Polytechnic campus would prove a key job creator in the state.
Scott, who has anchored his administration on rebuilding Florida’s economy, apparently agreed. Plans for creating the new schools developed even as lawmakers cut $300 million from the budgets of Florida’s 11 other universities.
The $24.7 million reduction facing Florida Atlantic University forced that school’s board of trustees this week to proposed closing its Fort Lauderdale and Treasure Coast campuses.
“This move is nothing more than an appalling and wasteful power play by the Republicans in Tallahassee,” said Florida Democratic Party spokeswoman Brannon Jordan. “The people of Florida didn’t ask for this university, they don’t need it and can’t afford it.”