With Gov. Scott’s signature soon to grace the 2016-17 Florida budget, the last obstacle to funding for UCF’s downtown campus has been surmounted.
Scott’s office released its Florida First Budget today, detailing elements of the proposed legislative budget that the governor plans to reject. The $20 million in funding earmarked for Downtown UCF was not included on the list, indicating that Scott will sign the budget once it’s delivered to him by the legislature.
“I am proud that our Florida First Budget invests record amounts of funding all across our state, including in our K-12 and higher education systems to ensure our students have the knowledge and skills to achieve their dreams; record investments to protect our springs so Florida remains the most pristine state in the nation; and record funding at the Agency for Persons with Disabilities to allow people with unique abilities to lead healthy and fulfilling lives,” Scott said in a press release.
In response to the upcoming budget approval, university President John C. Hitt remarked on the importance of the downtown campus to the UCF community.
“This is one of the most important milestones in UCF’s history,” Hitt said in a press release. “We appreciate Gov. Scott’s support and his sharing our belief that UCF Downtown will transform the lives of our students and the future of our community. UCF, Orlando and the state will benefit from this decision for decades to come.”
The quest for funding of the downtown campus has been a tumultuous one since it was originally announced Sept. 24, 2014. The Florida Legislature only approved $15 million of the school’s initial $58 million funding request during a session on June 18, 2015. On June 23, 2015, Gov. Scott vetoed $461 million from the state budget, including the money original allocated to the downtown campus.
The university responded by developing a revised funding plan to meet its $60 million goal. UCF would contribute $20 million, the state would contribute $20 million and private donors would provide the final $20 million sum.
On March 2, the Florida Board of Governors, a 16-member board appointed to oversee funding of the state university system, approved the school’s $20 million state funding request. On March 6, the state legislature added the request to Florida’s 2016-17 budget.
The final step of the process was for the budget to receive Gov. Scott’s signature, which he confirmed will occur later today, ending a two-year journey for expanded UCF presence in Downtown Orlando.
Bernard Wilchusky is the Editor-in-Chief of the Central Florida Future. You can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @cameradudeman.